2. Improve Your Soil
Principle No. 2
Good soil is the basis of any successful landscape. It retains more water and provides greater nutrients to plants.
Identify your soil
Soils in Colorado range from heavy clay to very sandy. Typically, they are also low in organic matter and nitrogen. Clay - which is the primary soil type in Castle Rock - absorbs water very slowly. While, sandy soil does not absorb water well and dries out quickly. If water is applied to clay soil too quickly, it will run off.
Add organic matter
To enable your soil to better absorb water and allow for deeper roots, you will need to add organic matter before planting. This will help change the soil structure and increase water holding capacity. Try adding organic amendments, such as decomposed bark compost, or a mix of top soil, manure and compost. Amendments should be added in the amount of 4 cubic-yards per 1,000 square-feet (this equates to about 1 inch of organic matter on top of soil.) The organic matter should be worked into the soil and mixed to a minimum of 6-inches deep.
Research your plants
Be aware that some native plants actually prefer soil that is low in organic matter. These plants will need no more than 1.5 cubic-yards of organic matter per 1,000 square-feet.
Most plants, especially xeric, do well with a good soaking and then letting the soil dry out. If plants are consistently moist or are over watered, they will not do well.
Fertilizer is not the same as organic compost. If the soil is not conditioned, fertilizer will not penetrate the soil and access the roots