Southern Utah Soil Types and How to Utilize Them

For any of you who moved to the St. George are from out of state, particularly from a place that did not have a desert climate, one thing you may have noticed from a landscaping perspective is how frustrating it can be to work the soil here. Even compared to the areas of Central and Northern Utah, Southern Utah’s soil is quite different. In fact, you might even say that calling it soil is being charitable. This is because St George soil is quite low in organic matter and very high in mineral content. This is why you have such a hard time digging. Another aspect of the soil that makes gardening and landscaping somewhat tedious in the St George area is that in some areas you have a lot of sand which drains quickly and in other areas, you have clay which drains slowly. We’ll discuss both types here so depending on which one exists where you live, you’ll be able to combat it properly. Of all our Precision Landscape services, education is the most important and we want you to have the right tools to be an expert desert gardener.

Let’s start with the more workable soil type first. If you live in an area within Southern Utah that is near a dried-up water source like a riverbed, or if you live in near a wash, we would be that you are dealing with sandy soil. This type of soil is quite a bit easier to manage than the compact clay type that we’ll discuss afterward. Because drainage happens easily with sandy soil, your desert plants and flowers will receive their water much easier which will make landscaping your property, in general, less complicated. The only thing about sandy soil in the St. George area is that it will require you to water more often than you would otherwise and this because sandy soil just can’t hold water very well. Some folks in the area add compost (or another organic matter) to their soil which boosts its ability to hold water. (Precision Landscape services include help in this area, so let us know if you want some assistance).

Clay, on the other hand, is more difficult to manage, as is caliche. Have you ever heard of caliche? It’s an extremely hard substance that is often incorrectly assumed to be cement. It is a soil layer that is made up of white calcium carbonate. Compact clay, along with caliche, are difficult to deal with because they don’t drain very well at all. In fact, in order to break up this kind of soil, you will probably need some kind of a pickaxe; that’s how hard this stuff can get. You’ll want to break it up as much as possible to allow better drainage before you start planting. But don’t break your back doing it. Sure, desert vegetation needs water, but it is very resilient. Just break it up enough that you can tell that adequate drainage is taking place.

A digging bar may even be necessary if the caliche or hardpan clay on your property is extremely solid. You may want to use Precision Landscape services for this. In these scenarios, all that is necessary is to choose precisely where drainage slots will be needed and then break up the soil in those areas. There is no need to feel like you have to do your whole garden. Just make sure you get the bases of your planting holes. Some people have figured out how to raise the depth of roots by mounding the soil which can often help as well. Another thing to remember for folks who have this compact clay soil is that, compared to sandy soil, your irrigation efforts need to last longer and go at a slower pace.

And there is nothing wrong with resorting to raised beds. A lot of people in Southern Utah do that, as you probably have seen, which can make gardening quite a bit easier because you can purchase the exact type of soil you desire and treat it accordingly. It’s up to you, of course. Also, remember that many of our Precision Landscape services include doing all of this type of work for you and much more. Give us call!

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Southern Utah Soil Types and How to Utilize Them

Precision Landscape Services

Article by Clear Content Marketing