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Soil Preparation and Landscaping

Updated on July 6, 2017
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed writes about many different hobbies and one which is very popular is gardening and landscaping. Earth and water.

Preparing the soil
Preparing the soil | Source

Soil Preparation For Planting

Folks, here's the dirt. Beautiful lawns, towering trees, and flowering and vegetable gardens need nutritional soil preparation. It will cost you research and labor to prepare the soil for a nutritional good earth to support your garden or landscaping needs.

"Aw Gee, I thought I could just dig a hole, drop a seed or a plant, and Mother Earth would do the rest". I heard you make that statement. "This is wishful thinking".

Truly, if you want to have beautiful landscaping, it begins with the soil. General maintenance will include watering, fertilizing, tilling, weeding, and whatever else is needed to keep the land healthy for grass growing and other plants.

Healthy soil usually measures 6.5 to 7.0 pH. When soil is tested by a laboratory they will advise what correction products, minerals and nutrients to add to the soil to balance the pH for growing vegetation.

Healthy Soil

The ideal soil mix.
The ideal soil mix. | Source

Soil Types

The first step is to know what type of soil is available on your property. There are three soil types.

  1. Sandy
  2. Clay
  3. Loam
  1. Grab a fistful of dirt. If the consistency of the earth crumbles you have sandy soil. Add compost and cow manure to make it more substantial.
  2. Clay soil holds the land together but when wet it is slick and when dry it is hard and brittle. Another popular use for clay include drive ways and country roads. Thin with sand.
  3. Loamy soil has silt, sand, and clay. It will hold the plant roots, have good water drainage, and looseness of the soil allows roots to breathe. This is the ideal type of soil.

Correcting sandy soil is not difficult. Add organic compost and and any animal manure to the growing areas of flowers and vegetables.

Topsoil needs to be added for lawns. When you speak with the dirt suppliers, let them know what you intend to grow in that earth. They will advise you as to what soil type will be needed.

Clay is great for making clay roads. However, It needs to be balanced with compost and sand for garden areas as it can become too slick with water or too brittle prohibiting plant growth.

The desired soil is loamy, an equal balance of clay, sand, and slick from decayed vegetation.

A harvest of flowers and vegetables from the home garden.
A harvest of flowers and vegetables from the home garden. | Source

Gardening and Landscaping Success

There is much to read in order to gain the knowledge needed for gardening and landscaping success. Plants have different requirements. And the soil type has much to do with the continuance of life for living foliage.

Many of us are indoctrinated with the idea of fertilizing plants with ready made chemical formulas from your local gardening center. For a successful garden change your thinking from chemical fertilizers to organic fertilizing. Feed your soil for optimum health and the plants will seek their nutrients.

The nutrients in the soil need to be replenished on a regular schedule. Plants will exhaust the earth of its nutrients, therefore keep your soil healthy.

Compost Pile

The compost pile is an essential nutritional source for both flower and vegetable gardens. The soil needs to be fed with aged compost.
The compost pile is an essential nutritional source for both flower and vegetable gardens. The soil needs to be fed with aged compost. | Source

Soil Nutrients

One of the best options for keeping the soil nourished is a compost pile. The compost pile is made up of leaves, organic material, small twigs, grass cuttings, and animal waste products. The least expensive method is do it yourself composting.

Country living will afford access to animal waste products available at local farms or by livestock on your property as will much of the other compost materials.

Suburban communities may have their rules and regulations against open compost piles because of the odor. Manufactured compost containers may be recommended.

The second method is to purchase compost at your local garden supply center. This may be more ideal for smaller vegetable and flower gardens.

It is worthwhile to take soil samples of your property and have it tested by your state agriculture department to know of the specific ingredients which is lacking in the soil.

Working The Garden

A gentleman is hard at work working his garden.
A gentleman is hard at work working his garden. | Source

Property Types

  1. The home is located on established property and the soil needs to be renewed because of heavy use and nutrient exhausted land of many years. This soil can be renewed by removing much of the worn out soil and replaced with nutrient enriched and/or top soil as needed for grass or gardening.
  2. It is a newly constructed house and because construction materials can contaminate the land it may be necessary to add several loads of top soil to allow for grass and plant growing conditions.
  3. Virgin property will take time, labor effort, and organic replacement depending on the type of soil and the geographical area. There will be heavy and light land clearing, ridding of unwanted insects which can hinder desired plant life, many weeds, undesirable seeds, and a variety of unwanted pests.

Landscaping a Home

Landscaping highlights  the beauty of a house.
Landscaping highlights the beauty of a house. | Source

Nine Landscaping Design Suggestions

  1. List personal ideas of how you would like to landscape your property.
  2. List adopted ideas from books, magazines, and other publications which you would like to include in your landscaping design.
  3. Measure property boundaries for your ideas.
  4. Draw your plans in a notebook.
  5. List all trees, plants, and other vegetation which you plan to use.
  6. Note where the sun is shining during the season changes.
  7. Mark flat, hilly, lowland, rocky, sandy, clay and loamy soil areas.
  8. Plumbing needs for automatic sprinklers, hand watering, and work areas.
  9. Analyze all your wishes. Will they work? Have an eraser handy.

Do-it-yourself landscaping requires planning, research, and patience. It is important that you understand that if you are starting out as an amateur, allow time for learning in order to avoid wasted intense labor, supply costs, and unannounced mishaps.

Start with the foundation and precede one step at a time. If you are not a DIY person, hire professional landscapers to create your dream landscape.

After you have prepared the soil and you know exactly how you wish to design your property, gather knowledge of trees, flowers, and other plants which will be included in the design.

Look at the neighborhood to see which plants do best. This will avoid costly mistakes. If you know a professional landscaper who has installed their plans in the neighborhood note the plants they used. Consider some of their ideas and plant choices.

Be objective and honest as you want the trees and other vegetation to make sense with your housing architecture.

The architecture of the house is critical to the landscaping design.

Landscaping is like painting a picture. Its composition must make sense to be effective and beautiful. This is living art.

A Manicured Lawn

green grass
green grass | Source

Lawn and Trees

Utilize a notebook pad illustrating a drawing of your house, measurements, and list of grasses and trees.

An artist paints from the background and slowly paints toward the foreground, then the details.

Spray paint the measured areas for the lawn areas and tree placements. Dig, shovel, rake, fertilize, and whatever else is needed to prepare the earth for planting.

Know the planting season of the types of grass seed or sod for your region, and the suitable trees with their correct growth heights, widths, and distances appropriate for the architectural design of the house.

The grass will be your carpet and the trees are the tallest plants accenting the house and lawn area.

Be familiar with the location of the water supply, position of power lines, garden or yard features, and fencing.

A beautiful well manicured lawn and a selection of evergreen or flowering trees accenting or gracing the overall appearance of the property may be your stopping point. Planting trees and grass may be all that is needed in your landscaping design.

Other items such as flower gardens, vegetable gardens, features, ponds, and other embellishments may be added later.

Garden Expenses

copper pennies
copper pennies | Source

Cost Saving Landscaping Tips

  1. Do a soil test. This is money saving as the soil test will let you know what your soil lacks.
  2. Do homemade composting. Composting material is essential for any soil. Recycle garbage, leaves, grass, twigs. Consider vermicomposting.
  3. Make homemade insecticides.
  4. Make homemade fertilizers.
  5. Water with a garden hose. Economical, but time consuming. Or install a water irrigation system.
  6. Grow grass from seed.

Three methods for applying grass:

1. For larger areas and between sod sow seeds

2. Medium size areas install 4"x4" grass sod squares in a checker board pattern.

3. In smaller areas install larger sod.

Additional Money Saving Tips:

  1. Cut larger sod squares into smaller squares.
  2. Grow trees from seeds.
  3. Purchase from wholesale garden outlets


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