Get Down to the Nitty Gritty – Soil that Is!

Here’s the 4-1-1, the scoop, the dirt: Soil is the foundation for a healthy, drought-tolerant landscape.

If you have deep soil – like most who live in central San Antonio – good for you. It’s probably heavy clay, but with added organic matter you have a wide variety of plants to choose from that require little additional work.

Homes located farther north and northwest have a greater challenge because soil is very shallow. In fact, grass is something you should definitely limit or even eliminate from your plan. If grass is a must, be prepared to haul in soil and compost to a minimum depth of 6 inches and pay close attention to drainage issues.

If you live on the far south side of the city, then you likely have sandy soil. While it makes for easy digging, sandy soil has little organic matter. Adding organic matter is where you want to focus your efforts.

Once you’ve determined your soil situation, decide on plant material and overall landscape design based on the amount of time, money and effort required for your various options. If soil is the limiting factor, start thinking about adding and expanding your patio and pathways and looking for plants that perform well in thin soils. If you have heavy clay, choose plants that require minimal drainage; conversely, plants that require a lot of drainage do well in sandy soil.

Changing the soil characteristics or sun and shade patterns of your landscape can be difficult and costly. Save money and effort by considering these factors first when planning your low maintenance, drought-tolerant landscape.

Picture of Dana Nichols
Dana Nichols
As conservation manager at SAWS, Dana spent her days promoting beautiful San Antonio landscapes that need little to no water while benefiting Texas wildlife. While she’s no longer whipping up new landscape programs, she’s still cooking up delicious dinners made with fresh herbs from her low-water-use garden or planning the next trip with her husband, Rick -- preferably to some exotic place that requires a passport.
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