Good healthy soil is more than just DIRT! It also includes air,
water, organic matter, and living organisms. The right balance results in
healthy plants, the wrong balance results in sick or dead plants!
- DIRT (mineral particles)
- Soil is generally described by the size of its mineral particles: clay,
silt, or sand. Sand is the largest, clay the smallest, with silt in between.
Sand drains quickly and holds few nutrients. Clay holds water well, drains
poorly, and is more nutrient-rich.
Get to know your soil.
- AIR and WATER
- Air and water fill in the spaces between the mineral particles. They are
essential in transporting nutrients to plants and carrying away waste. Too
little room between mineral particles results in compacted soil and
- ORGANIC MATTER and SOIL ORGANISMS
- Soil organisms include bacteria, fungi, worms, and other beneficial
organisms. These organisms are essential for plant growth — they improve
soil structure, make nutrients available, protect from pests, improve water
availability, and filter out pollutants.
Creating Healthy Soil
Following these guidelines will result in a healthier landscape:
- Mulch and grasscycle regularly.
Covering the soil with mulch conserves water, prevents erosion, and
suppresses weeds. In addition, organic mulch improves soil texture and
adds nutrients. To learn more, download the
Guide to Mulch & Grasscycling.
- Prevent soil compaction. Walk on garden beds as little as
possible, keep heavy equipment and cars off lawns, and minimize the use
of rototillers. Compacted soils prevent air and water circulation,
thereby smothering plant roots.
- Protect soil from erosion. Trees, shrubs, and mulch help
limit soil erosion. Erosion washes away valuable topsoil and pollutes
- Don’t overwater. Filling soil spaces with water keeps air
from plant roots which can promote disease.
- Limit the use of pesticides. Pesticides can kill beneficial
soil organisms as well as pests.
- Conserve topsoil. Topsoil includes organic matter and living
organisms that plants need to thrive.
Click on any section to learn more
Here are some more in depth articles on specific RFL topics that you might
find of interest:
RFL Inspiration Garden
Mulch, Grasscycling, and Compost
Fertilize Naturally — Is Feeding
Frenzy Really Needed?
Plant Trees, Save Energy!
Right Plant, Right Place!
Take Action to Save Water Outdoors…
Lawn Care: How Green is Your Grass?
Rethink Your Lawn
Pests Bugging You?
River-Friendly Pest Control
Managing Common Pests
Interview about RFL (MP3)
Choose California natives first
Don't Blow It!
Reducing Outdoor Asthma
Watch the YouTube video
Flow - Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge"
to learn about the importance of landscaping to stormwater quality.