Know Your Soil Type
January 1, 2021
Not all landscape soil is created equal. In fact, the texture and type of soil has an influence on which plants can or can't be grown successfully in your landscape. Soil type can vary widely across the DFW Metroplex.
Soil structure is influenced by the climate of your area, the types & amount of biological activity in the soil, topography, and time. If you live in an area that experienced a huge flooding event in the past, the soil composition can contain more silty deposits caused by erosion. Whereas, if your area was covered by a forest in the past your soil will be higher in organic matter content.
Soil texture is important to understand because it impacts plant selection and care practices. Different soil textures affect water movement & retention, the availability of air to roots, and nutrient availability.
Three Main Soil Types
Sand: Sandy soil has incredible drainage capacity due to the large pore spaces between individual particles. But, sand has low water and nutrient-holding capacity -- meaning more water fertilizer will leach from sandy soils faster, and will need to be replenished more often for plants to thrive.
Clay: Clay is the opposite of sand. Its soil particles are small and "sticky", which creates little room for pore space. Due to small pore space, clay soils hold more water, and potential nutrients, but that means they don't drain well. Clay soils may require frequent aeration. Clay soils also suffer from compaction – sound familiar, North Texans?
Silty Loam: Silt is a medium size particle, and the most ideal type of soil to have. It is in the middle of the range on all soil profile characteristics. Moderately sized pore space means silty loam soils retain enough water, without becoming water-logged, and retain nutrients valuable to plants.
Most soils don’t fall directly into just one category– instead they are a mixture of the types. As shown in this map of Texas (provided by the USDA & NRCS), there are a whopping 61 different soil classifications across the state!
A good chunk of the DFW metroplex is Texas Blackland Prairie soil. This type of soil is made up of heavy clay, but areas near rivers due have a higher concentration of sand. Due to the clay soil, it’s obvious that we have compaction issues which affects drainage and nutrient uptake.
Improving soil quality
Soil Aeration: Aeration can help to correct compaction in the root zone of a tree by increasing pore space, and in turn allowing water and nutrients to better reach your trees. If your lawn suffers from compaction, our AERA-vator service can help correct it by penetrating the soil with large tines that stir & loosen soil particles.
Amendments: We add amendments to the soil during aeration to help improve soil structure and composition, as well as improve bioactivity. This can also be done over a large area – like a landscape bed – by incorporating compost, expanded shale, or worm castings to improve soil structure and fertility.
Fertilization: Building a healthy soil is the foundation of our SEASONS programs. Through bio-fertilization, we enhance soil health & provide components for vigorous plant root development. By feeding the soil, we stimulate and boost microbial activity, which in turn help to make nutrients more available to your landscape.
Minimize heavy traffic: As soil compaction is such an issue in our soils, minimizing traffic can help to avoid compaction. Avoid driving heavy machinery or vehicles over your lawn and especially at the base of trees in order to keep air spaces intact.
Soil is a complex, living organism that has specific requirements depending on type and structure. It’s important to combine tactics to create the best environment for your trees, lawn, and landscape to thrive.
Posted: January 1, 2021