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We receive calls from many people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area who have poor soil.  It happens enough that we thought people might be interested to know more about the process of rebuilding.

If you have the following problems chances are poor soil is the culprit:

  • Soil is cracked and dried in the summer
  • Digging holes is difficult whether or not it is wet or dry
  • Water tends to pool on the surface, then drains very slowly or runs off the surface.
  • Leaves are yellow and have brown dead sections

Much of the above symptoms are due to a lack of organic matter.  Look at the color of your soil.  It will be dark if it has enough humus.  Humus is the foundation of healthy soil and is formed by decomposition of plants, leaves or animal matter and provides nutrients for plants.

Below are tips on how to rebuild your soil.  They are also part of our LivingSolutions organic landscape management program.  It’s a comprehensive sustainable approach to landscape management.  For more information about our program, see our website:

Mulch

Tree service mulch is free, attractive and provides organic matter.  It is made from the branches and brush which are run through a grinding machine and chipped into small wood chips.  This will gradually break down and add nutrients to the soil helping it to hold more water, reverse compaction, slow erosion and reduce weed growth.

Compost

Purchase it or make it with kitchen scraps and yard trimmings.  Avoid meat, eggs or dairy.  Apply compost with the least disturbance, on top of soil.  The compost will improve soil structure and increase its ability to hold moisture.

Organic Soil Amendments

We recommend using 100% worm castings as a top dressing.  Worm castings are

Poor Soil

odorless and have the appearance of coffee grounds.  They impart a slow release of nutrients to the soil, increase its water holding capacity and immunity to disease.

Compost Tea

It’s a liquid microbial inoculant which provides essential nutrients to the soil.  It is rich in plant extracts and sea kelp.  Compost tea also reduces germination time, promotes vigorous growth and increase drought resistance.  It can be sprayed directly on plants or on soil.

Avoid Excessive Digging

Good Soil

Every time soil is disturbed through digging or excessive foot traffic it damages the delicate soil structure.  This limits a plant’s roots access to nutrients, air and water.

Limit of Eliminate the use of Pesticides or Synthetic Fertilizers

Synthetic fertilizers will help keep plants green and blooming but only a small percentage is actually used by the plants.  They can leach from the soil into ground water.  They feed the plant, not soil and the nutrients are insufficient over the long term.

If you keep up this practice you will start noticing that your plants look healthier and have more vitality.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bella Vista is beautiful apartment complex in Richmond.  It is the winner of the GEMM (Greater Excellence in Management and Maintenance) Awards of the Greater East Bay.  The property is 40 acres and much of the landscaping is turf.  When Gardeners’ Guild started its service, May, 2009, Bella Vista had high water bills and the management also wanted to build a greener community.

We began work to make Bella Vista’s irrigation more efficient and were successful in lowering water consumption by performing the following:

  • Rigorous irrigation monitoring and adjusted controllers to meet seasonal needs
  • Fixing irrigation breaks
  • Repairing broken hardware
  • Capping irrigation in places that didn’t require watering

The results were dramatic!

Bella Vista enjoyed a 53% reduction in water usage from 2008 to 2010 and saved approximately $45,891

It is a testament to the advice we have given over the years to our clients.  The first step in water conservation is to do a thorough irrigation diagnostic to ensure that it is running efficiently.

To learn more about

Bella Vista

Bella Vista, see their website:  http://www.bvapartments.com/