Got Thin Soil? Go Native!

Juan Soulas

Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, San Antonio’s booming northwest side presents a prime location with difficult a landscaping challenge: thin soil. In this situation, the single most important decision to be made as far as plant selection is the degree of native vs. non-native landscape.

After all, the reason those beautiful limestone ledges are visible in the first place is that the soil eroded long ago. Although builders are required to add 6 inches of topsoil during construction, much of it washes away after a few seasons.

Going native is the most logical choice as it retains the beauty and character of the landscape that attracts so many to live there in the first place. A Texas Hill Country plant palette has adapted to its natural surroundings – in this case limestone outcroppings with alkaline, shallow soils. Native plants require the least amount of water and maintenance.

If you opt for a non-native landscape, the single element that will have the greatest impact on water use and maintenance is the amount of lawn you have. Turf – or any non-native vegetation – requires a substantial amount of soil to ensure proper plant growth. The ideal soil depth is at least 6 inches. This helps retain moisture longer and encourages deeper root growth. Anything less will require more frequent watering.

No matter where your home is located always consider the consequences of the landscape choices you make. Ask yourself one simple question: Are you working with the natural surroundings or against it?

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