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Soil Improvements
Green plant in soilSoil Amendments and Fertilizers
If there were a perfect soil, it would be a balanced mixture of five ingredients: solids, ranging from small stones down to the smallest clay particles; organic matter, mostly decayed vegetable and animal matter; a substantial population of living creatures; and considerable quantities of water and air.

Soil texture – the size of the particles – is relatively easy to describe and nearly impossible to alter. Sandy soils drain freely, are well aerated, and easy to cultivate. They dry out quickly, are often alkaline, and tend to be low in available nutrients. They warm up quickly and cool down equally fast.

The small particles of clay soils are generally rich in nutrients and hold water well. They drain poorly, tend to accumulate salts more quickly, and are often difficult to cultivate. They warm up slowly in the spring and retain warmth well.

Improving Your Soil
Determining the type of soil on your site will help guide your landscape management strategies, including soil preparation, planting, watering and feeding. Heavier soils, similar to those found in the greater San José area, work well with recycled water as long as changes in soil-chemical properties are evaluated regularly. Regular testing of your soil will help you manage your landscape on an ongoing basis and pro-actively, rather than waiting for a problem to develop. This strategy is true whether you are working with potable or recycled water.

Whether you are installing new landscape or renovating to accommodate recycled water, obtaining a soil analysis of your site is highly recommended. The report should reveal many of your soil’s horticultural properties, including pH, salinity, soil texture, fertility, and organic matter content. The report may also identify some features that could be improved or corrected. Local soil labs that perform these horticultural tests have current recycled water data and can tailor their analytical reports specifically to your landscape site. 

Recycled water has a nutrient value that may help you save money on fertilizers. A few of the key nutrients supplied by recycled water include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are all beneficial in landscape management. If you still find it necessary to use additional fertilizers when irrigating with recycled water, use materials with a low salt index, or incorporate a natural organic material containing low levels of salt.

Maintaining Good Soil
  • Test regularly
  • Add amendments as necessary
  • Utilize ongoing maintenance