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Soil types and how you could improve your Landscaping Design

Soil types and how you could improve your Landscaping Design
April 16, 2018 Luke Porter


Sand vs Soil Lukes Landscaping

Sand Versus Soil

A run down on Perth’s sandy soils and how you can improve your Landscaping

When digging in your garden, have you ever wondered why your soil looks more like sand?

This is because most gardens within the Perth metro, are situated on deep sandy soils. These soils can leave even the greenest thumbed gardener perplexed, as to why his or her plants just aren’t thriving. Although it is best practice to undertake soil improvements when your plants are first going in, it is never too late to give your plants the best chance of survival, even in a fully established garden. Here are a few pointers, which may help to kick start your soil improvement journey.

Soil pH and why it’s important

An important starting point for improving your soils health, is to determine it’s pH. This indicates the soil acidity, or alkalinity on a scale of 1 to 14. Alkaline soils have a pH of higher than 7 and acidic soils a pH of lower than 7 and Perth’s sandy soil, typically ranges from a pH of 4 to 8.5. You can test the pH of your soil either by using a soil pH test kit, which can be purchased at most garden centres, or if you want to get really scientific, you can also take a soil sample to a local laboratory for testing. Once you have determined your soils pH, you can make a start of establishing the optimum pH level for plants, which is generally within the pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. For acidic soils an application of dolomite lime at 100 grams per metre squared, can be used to increase the soil pH by 1 point. Patience is a must for this type of application, as it can take several months to take effect. In alkaline soils, iron sulphate can be applied to decrease the soils pH level (refer to instructions regarding quantities) and is almost instant, in contrast to the dolomite lime application.

Soil PH Tester Lukes Landscaping
Water And Neutrients Lukes Landscaping

Keeping water and nutrients in your sandy soil

Another common issue with sandy soils is water and nutrient retention. Effectively addressing this, will help to increase the overall health of your plants, decrease the amount of watering required and hinder the harmful effects of excessive nutrients leaching into the groundwater system and fragile ecosystems beyond. Organic materials, fine mineral particles and water absorbent gels, are all great ways to combat poor water and nutrient retention. Organic materials including composts, coco peat and broken down animal manure, are all beneficial soil additives. However, when these types of materials become dry, they may also become water repellent. Plant residues, either dry or green, can also be beneficial, but it is vital that these are well composted prior to application, or your plants may be susceptible to disease. Clay, loam and red mud, also known as finer particles, are also great in boosting water and nutrient retention, with the ideal clay content in soil being 5 to 10 percent.

Why sandy soils seem to repel rather than absorb water

As organic materials decompose they leave a wax like coating on sand, which results in hydrophobic (water repellent) soils. Perth is known to have one of the highest concentrations of hydrophobic soil in the world (lucky us), but rest assured there are ways in which this can be overcome. Enhancing the re-wetting properties of your soil can be achieved by applying a wetting agent (available at your local garden centre) and loam, or clay can also help to address water repellence. While kaolin clay is known to be the most affective of the clays, bentonite clay may also be used. Beneficial bacteria have also been linked to the effective break down of the wax like coating on sandy soils. The bacteria help to break down organic materials, while giving beneficial nutrients back to the soil, however, these do require a moist environment to thrive. Mulching your garden with a coarse bark, or pea straw mulch, will help to protect beneficial bacteria, with the added bonus of lowering the soil temperature and reducing water evaporation.

So that gives you a bit of a rundown of some of the problems you may encounter with your sandy soil. Just remember you aren’t alone and if you are thinking of a landscaping service in Perth, we are always here to help. Why not give us a call and we can discuss how we can help you make your garden come alive!

Clay Soil Lukes Landscaping

Need Us To Help With Your Garden?

  • Oh wow, where do I start . . . Right from our first contact with Luke we had a good feeling about it. Luke was friendly, approachable, knowledgeable, and very enthusiastic to meet our needs. He provided us with some much needed direction for our gardening endeavours, was professional, and always available to answer our questions. Once we decided on a plan, he coordinated all of the services and items that were needed, and provided us with an exceptionally hard working, and skilled, landscaper in Derick. Luke visited the project on several occasions, to make sure we were happy with it’s progress, to make some minor tweaks here and there, or deliver something that was needed. Our landscape project was relatively small but we never felt like we didn’t matter. The project started on time, and finished on time, and the yard was left spick and span. It’s a vast improvement on what was there before it, and given it’s almost spring, it shouldn’t be long before our garden takes on it’s real shape. We could not be happier with the end result, the price, and the service that we received from Luke and Derick. If you are looking to have a landscaping job done, either big or small, I’d definitely recommend giving Luke a call.
    Rick and Clare
  • A huge thank you to the staff at Luke's Landscaping for the wonderful transformation of our front yard. It's gone from a sandpit to a gorgeous green oasis. The team worked so hard over the week to transform our gardens and we are very appreciative of the attention to detail and care they took.
    Christina and Darren
  • I could give Luke’s Landscaping a higher recommendation. They handled my front yard from design through to completion and I was so impressed by their work, attention to detail and communication at each step of the process. Such a great experience and I love coming home to my new front yard!
  • I used Luke’s Landscaping to provide an overhaul of my front lawn with the task to reduce the amount of lawn and increase the low maintenance area including a rock feature. Also, they were used to provide a major landscaping overhaul for my Daughter’s back garden including lawns, garden beds and low water usage reticulation. All work was carried out within the agreed time schedule. The staff are very accommodating and pleasant to deal with. The work completed with efficiency, and all aspects were well-coordinated. The materials used were of a good quality that enhances the finished product. My daughter and I are very pleased with results.
  • Our terrace house had a sad and seldom used rear courtyard which has absolutely no access other than via our living areas. This we thought would be a show-stopper but Luke’s landscaping had the expertise to take it on and swiftly provided us with a lovely design and costed implementation plan, which has simply transformed this area into a valuable extension of our living space. The construction work was carried out most diligently and despite having to transport removed debris, new limestone blocks and pavers, soil, mulch and many plants (including a very large tree) through our home, the professionalism of the whole process and the final cleanup left no sign of the major operation that had been undertaken, either internally or externally. Luke’s follow up on the project to address a couple of small issues has also been most helpful and certainly won’t hesitate in recommending Luke’s landscaping to others who have admired this transformed area! Thankyou.
  • Our front yard in Karrinyup was completely transformed in March 2015. In just one week, the team completed the job of removing what was there, replaced the topsoil, installed the reticulation and mulched with native plants. Four months on we are still so impressed with the job and delighted that we used Luke’s Landscaping. Highly recommended!


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Founder and Director | Having founded Luke’s Landscaping originally as a sole trader in 2008 with just a ute, a shovel and a whole lot of passion and determination, Luke’s Landscaping Co. is now a well-respected Perth landscaping company. Luke continues to work tirelessly to grow the company and his team to deliver excellence and the best experience for our customers. Luke’s passion lies in his commitment to growing the company, its people and the systems required to deliver the high standards that our customers deserve.