Landscaping is all about soil

When it comes to landscape and irrigation maintenance, the key is to learn how to deal with your specific types of soil. Soil is not only your yard’s first line of defense to battle periods of hot dry weather and pests but is also your landscape’s foundation regardless of plant type. Soils in Central Texas vary from rocky alkaline dirt to hard granite gravel to sticky clay. Here’s how to create a successful landscape using soil science.

  1. Test your soil

The first step toward creating a successful landscape is knowing what kind of soil is under your lawn. A simple soil test is an easy and straightforward way to determine the amount of organic matter and available nutrients. Soil testing also lets you know what nutrient deficiencies are present in order to supplement accordingly. Keep in mind that organic matter gives soil its water-holding capacity and natural biodiversity of beneficial bacteria and fungi.

  1. Apply compost

The next step for a thriving landscape is applying compost. All types of soil benefit from yearly or bi-annual applications of a quality finished compost following a deep tine aeration. Not only will compost add organic matter with beneficial microorganisms to the soil’s profile but also will help to retain soil moisture between rainfall events. Roughly a quarter to one-half inch applied twice a year should do the job. When determining your compost needs, consider a cubic yard of compost typically covers about 1,000 square feet with a quarter inch deep of material. A simple trick is to take the area of the landscape, multiply by the depth of compost and then divide by 326. March and October are optimal times to add compost topdressing, however any time of year works well.

  1. Water wisely

The final step in maintaining a flourishing landscape is to water wisely. You can irrigate your landscape in the absence of natural rainfall with a hose-end sprinkler, watering can, water wand or automatic irrigation. Automatic irrigation systems account for 50 percent of the water used by most Texas households during the summer months. Avoid wasting water by performing irrigation system checkups, repairing clogged filters and misaligned heads and adjusting areas with too much pressure. If your water provider is a Lower Colorado River Authority customer, you may qualify for up to $350 in rebates for rain sensors, soil moisture sensors and pressure regulating heads and nozzles through the LCRA WaterSmart program. Visit for information on WaterSmart rebates, free irrigation system checkups and informative videos on maintaining your irrigation system.