WORK WITH YOUR SOIL (Nov. 23, 2008)

Garden soils range from lean, rocky or sandy soils with low nutrient values to heavy, nutrient-rich soils with poor drainage. Although many common garden plants prefer loamy soil with good drainage, we strongly recommend working with the soil you have by selecting appropriate native plants that are adapted to your natural conditions.

Amending soil can be difficult and if done improperly can worsen garden conditions. For example, adding small amounts of fine grained sand to clay soil exacerbates poor drainage. The clay particles strongly adhere to the sand, in effect creating concrete. On the other hand, adding nutrients to sandy soil may temporarily enrich it, but rain and irrigation will quickly wash away these amendments. During periods of heavy rain these chemicals can find their way into storm drains, polluting our beaches and water ways.

Check our plant lists for suggestions on plants adapted to heavy soil or well-drained, sandy soil.