• Proper Arizona Soil Management

    August 5, 2016 | Blog | gpldev
  • One of the strengths of a great landscaping company is the ability to manage and address landscape practices from a cultural level and from a horticultural perspective. This ensures that the communities that have a complete landscape sustainability program and have the highest levels of performance possible. And a proper sustainability program begins with soil management.

    Obtaining soil samples can be key in determining what is needed to maintain a healthy and sustainable community landscape. The information collected can help landscape managers begin to develop a soil management plan for not only the shrubs and trees, but also information pertinent to successful turf management.

    The PH index is a scale of units in which the acidity level of soil is determined and is measured on a 1-14 scale, 1 being highly acidic and 14 being highly alkaline. Our desert soils tend to be on the higher side and more alkaline, typically in the 8-9 levels. 7 is neutral and considered to be the ideal level for plants and turf to utilize the maximum number of nutrients already available in the soil. PH levels are important to understand because measurements above 7 chemically tie up micronutrients such as zinc, iron, and copper and slow plant growth. Lowering the PH levels is generally necessary here in the desert southwest and through frequent fertilization with products such as ammonium sulfate will allow the micronutrients mentioned above to be made available for turf, shrub, and tree growth.  

    High sodium build-up is also a typical problem in the valley. The observation and careful management of sodium levels is crucial for a sustainable and healthy landscape.  High salinity levels can have damaging and left unchecked fatal consequences on trees, plants and turf. Not only does high sodium levels tie up nutrients it can actually burn plants that are particularly sensitive to high salinity levels. Soil reclamation can be attained through frequent applications of soil amendments such as an enhanced gypsum product. Doing this should make nutrients more readily available for the trees, plants, and turf.

  • The big three nutrients needed by plants and turf to survive are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Potassium is particularly important for healthy, vibrant turf. The main job potassium has, is activating plant enzymes used in protein, sugar, and starch synthesis. It also plays a key role in maintaining turgor pressure in plants. It has a significant role in drought tolerance, cold hardiness, and disease resistance of turf grasses. Raising potassium levels through carefully timed fertilizer applications should allow the Bermuda grass to store more carbohydrates during the winter and should be a tremendous aid in transition from year to year.

    Magnesium is an important factor in the chlorophyll process that keeps turf looking green. Deficiencies can make turf look yellow. Applications of fertilizer and reducing sodium levels will also solve and unlock more magnesium to the turf to use.

    Nitrogen is the granddaddy of them all, affecting everything from root and shoot development to density, color, disease resistance and stress tolerance. Proper management should include properly timed applications of a slow release fertilizer to improve the overall health and appearance of turf.

    Proper soil management understanding and practices can solve many horticultural issues that may have once been a complexity in the past. Understanding this basic building block is a great first step in developing an overall landscape sustainability plan. Interested in what your community soil levels are? Contact your Desert Classic Landscaping manager or our office to find out information on getting more information of how and where to find out the soil results of your community.