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Parks, Recreation, & Culture » healthy landscapes, healthy living » Xeriscape Gardening

Principle#2 - Soil Improvement

Sometimes we forget how important soil is for plants, providing support, air, water and nutrients. A good soil supports healthy plant life and conserves moisture.

Healthy Soil Characteristics

  • Texture: the relative proportion of sand, silt and clay. Most plants do well in loamy soil containing all three minerals. The soil texture in Kamloops varies significantly.
  • Organic Content: the non-mineral component of soil that is or was alive. Kamloops soils are usually low in organic matter. (See Principle #3, Mulching.)
  • Soil Life: includes things we can see (earthworms, insects, rodents, reptiles), and things we can't (bacteria, fungi, nematodes). Healthy soil is teeming with life - a handful of soil is likely to contain billions of organisms and relatively few are detrimental. Most are necessary for transforming organic matter into nutrients that can be taken up by your plants.
  • pH: the measure of acidity or alkalinity. Acidic soils are lower than pH 7.0. Alkaline soils are higher than pH 7.0. A good average range is pH 6.0-7.5. Kamloops soils are usually neutral to alkaline.
  • Drainage: the rate at which excess water drains from a soil. Sandy soils drain faster than silt or clay soils.
  • Salinity: the level of potentially harmful salts, usually high in arid areas or poorly drained soils.
  • Fertility: the available nutrients for plant growth, generally low in Kamloops soil.

A successful landscape depends on knowledge of your soil conditions. It is recommended you have your soil analyzed by a soil laboratory.

It is easier to grow something appropriate for your soil type, than it is to significantly change it. Still, you can make improvements to soil structure and texture, as well as nutrient and water holding capacity by adding the following as necessary:

  • Organic Material: compost, aged manure, decomposed sawdust, and peat moss improve moisture holding capacity in sandy soils and loosen clay soils.
  • Sand: improves drainage in clay soils and the structure of light organic soils.
  • Lime: raises the pH of acidic soils.
  • Sulphur: slightly reduces the pH of alkaline soils.
  • Fertilizer: adjusts soil nutrients to the requirements of proposed plants.
  • Leaching: uses water to reduce salinity.

Karla Hoffman, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator
955 Concordia Way
Kamloops, BC V2C 6V3
ph (250) 828-3888

Note: All correspondence is entered into our system and will be directed accordingly. The City of Kamloops will endeavor to contact you within two business days. Thank you.

healthy landscapes, healthy living