Plants Installation

Before you Plant: Soil Preparation, Amendments

A number of amendments can be added to your soil to ensure the richest growing environment for your plants. Soil amendments can improve a number of planting bed characteristics like drainage, soil fertility and pH levels. Two of the most common and helpful amendments for improving North Texas soils are compost and expanded shale.

Compost is a nutrient rich soil conditioner consisting of broken down organic material. Incorporate or top-dress ½” to 2” of compost into the soil to improve drainage while maintaining your soil’s water-holding capacity. Compost:

  • Improves soil texture
  • Contains macro and micronutrients
  • Neutralizes pH
  • Increases water holding capacity
  • Reduces water evaporation

Expanded Shale is a porous, lightweight aggregate with the ability to improve drainage in clay soils and hold moisture at the same time. Expanded shale is most effective as incorporated into soil when establishing a new planting bed. Add up to 3” then till or mix in thoroughly to a depth of 6” with a shovel or spade.

Soil graphic
Don’t Guess, Soil Test!
One of the best methods for evaluating your soil is to collect and mail a soil sample to the Texas A&M Soil Testing Laboratory. Step-by-step instructions for submitting your sample are available at For as little as $10 per sample, you will receive a detailed analysis of your soil and recommendations on how you can improve soil fertility.


Spacing and Placement: “Right Plant, Right place”

A healthy native or adapted plant is a valuable asset, but to ensure the best success, it needs to be planted properly and in the right place, depending on its specific requirements. Read your plant’s tag and pay close attention to its hardiness zone, light requirements, size and spacing. Pay special attention to sunlight obstructions such as trees, buildings, fences and other plants in your landscape, and consider how shade conditions change.

Proper Planting

Whether you’re planting a native or adapted tree, shrub, or herbaceous perennial, it is key to make the transition from the nursery to your landscape as easy as possible and to employ the best planting practices to ensure a long, healthy life for your plant.

Planting Width should be 2 to 3 times as wide as root mass.
Planting Depth should be no deeper than root mass.

Dont break the root ball! Unwrap circling or girdling roots.

Planting depth graphic

Planting a tree

Planting a tree diagram



Applying mulch around your planted areas is crucial to a successful garden. A number of natural materials work well as mulch. Hardwood, cedar, cypress and pine straw mulches are all strong options. Water University recommends between 2” and 4” of mulch for most applications. Be sure to taper off near plant bases to avoid fungal problems and other pest issues.

The benefits of mulching are many; they include:

  • Increased water absorbing capacity
  • Increased water holding capacity
  • Reduced water evaporation
  • Reduced erosion
  • Weed control
  • Soil temperature moderation
  • Increased soil nutrition as mulch breaks down
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