Want Healthy Trees & Lawn? Know Your Soil Type
April 14, 2020
Get to Know Your Soil Type
Soil is a complex, living organism that has specific characteristics that may, or may not, be beneficial to your plant growing goals. The texture and type of soil has a major influence on what plants can be grown successfully and which cannot. Soil type can vary widely across different parts of the DFW Metroplex, so we recommend getting to know some of the basics of soil type before you choose plants or start lawn and landscaping projects.
Soil structure is influenced by the climate of your area, the types and amount of biological activity, topography, and time. Not to mention, human intervention. If you live in an area that experienced a heavy 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 may be higher in organic content.
Different soil textures affect water movement & retention, the availability of air to roots, and nutrient availability. Understanding soil texture is important as it should influence your plant selection and care practices.
Three Basic Soil Types
Sand: Sandy soil has incredible drainage due to the large pore spaces between individual particles. But, sandy soil has low nutrient-holding capacity -- meaning more fertilizer, or the addition of organic matter, will be necessary for certain plants to thrive.
Clay: Clay is the opposite of sand. Its soil particles are very small, which means there is less pore space between them. Due to small pore space, clay soils do not drain well and frequently require aeration. Clay soils also suffer from compaction – sound familiar, North Texans? Adding organic matter is also important in clay soils to help aerate and stimulate microbial activity.
Silt: Silt is a medium size particle, and the most ideal type of soil to have. It is in the middle of the range of soil characteristics. Moderately sized pore space means silty soils retain enough water, without becoming water-logged, and retain enough nutrients valuable to plants.
Most soils don’t fall directly into one of these categories, but rather present as a mixture of the types with some dominant ingredients. 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 metroplex soil is classified as Texas blackland prairie. This type of soil is made up of heavy clay, but areas near rivers do have a higher concentration of sand. Due to the clay soil, it’s obvious that we have compaction issues which affect drainage and nutrient uptake.
Improving soil quality
Aeration: Aeration will 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. 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. Amendments such as these are beneficial for most landscape beds and gardens in the North Texas area.
Fertilization: Building a healthy soil is the foundation of our SEASONS programs. Through bio-fertilization, we enhance soil health & provide components for vigorous 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: Since compaction is such an issue in our soils, minimizing foot or equipment 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. Don’t allow heavy building materials to be piled up around your trees during construction projects. Better yet, work with one of our arborists on a tree protection plan before you start construction.
The key to healthy trees, lawns, and landscapes is healthy soil. We can help you build better soil to grow a stronger landscape.