OK, the property has been graded, the hardscape is in…time for the ‘softscape’…what we at Details Landscape Art call exterior decorating. The first step is always soil preparation. Successful planting depends on the planting medium.

Details Landscape Art is a landscape contractor, serving homeowners in Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties. Throughout our twenty-four years, we have encountered almost every kind of soil conditions imaginable…heavy clay, rocky, sandy loam. And they all need some form of soil preparation – either to add nutrients or to make the soil more easily workable.

In heavy clay soils, we generally add nitrologized sawdust and/or soil mix. The clay is usually rock hard during the dry season and needs to be broken up. The clay is actually a nutrient-rich soil, and a great planting medium, once the plant’s root system penetrates the crust. So we water heavily for a few days to soften the surface, add the amendments, and then rototill thoroughly as deep as possible.

Sandy soils are usually nutrient deficient, and require a good soil mix amendment to give the plants a fertilizer boost when first installed. They will then need a consistent ongoing fertilization program to continue to add nutrients.

Rocky soil may or may not contain a good nutrient base, but we always add a good soil mix. Since extremely rocky soils are usually impossible to rototill, we amend each plant hole with the soil mix.

A well-prepared soil base will reward the gardener with thriving plants!