Garden Galaxy
Focus on Plant Health
Desert Southwest Gardens
Science from
The Planting Guru
Soil Composition Group
Garden Tips
TB1468 - TB1472
TB1473 - TB1480
*A Jar Test Analyser
Plus a link to
*The Garden Calculator Pro-I
Technical Bulletin Series
The horticultural information presented in this section of Garden Galaxy is written to the plant lovers, gardeners and landscape maintenance people in the Desert Southwest. Here, though a region may have a rainy season, it has a drought season as well. A season where for many months little to no measurable rain will fall. There are plants that can naturally tolerate this, but even these will look so much more beautiful if given adequate supplemental irrigation.

Additionally, in this region the soil is often very hard (high clay) or overly porous (sandy) and generally without any organic composition to help root systems grow. Consequently, there are a number of issues to deal with in order to have success throughout the year and over time.

Having performed hundreds of on-sight landscape consultations, it has been my experience that understanding and respecting soil composition in conjunction with a comprehensive plan for irrigation design and techniques are the primary reasons for results that after a couple years do not meet expectations.

Recommendations without scientific explanations backing them up can be found all over the internet. These may make fun reading, but too many miss the mark. In the webpages dedicated to gardening success in the Desert Southwest found here at Garden Galaxy; you may perhaps find terms and discussions that are beyond your interest. Feel free to cruise this course and pay more attention to the articles that fit your interest. I do recommend that, if hire a professional to care for your landscape or garden - THEY SHOULD BE INTERESTED in the whole package.

Photo of a Plant with Mouth
Do you water your plants? Really??

Well, if they had a mouth, I guess you could. What plants have are ROOTS, and as these are within the soil, what you actually do is WATER the SOIL!

This is said only to emphasize how critical it is to KNOW and UNDERSTAND the composition of the soil in your garden or landscape!

How you water the soil in which your plants grow is the question.
With most shrubs and trees the soil moisture MUST penetrate 8 to 12 inches deep in order to support a full and healthy root system.

The following articles discuss everything from learning the actual composition and critical aspects of your soil, and knowing the right formula for amending that, to remediating bad soil on established plants. You will then be introduced to our New Patented Online calculator. This will provide complete instructions to set up and schedule the correct irrigation. Matching irrigation to your soil and plant palate.

tap photo to read TB1468
Soil Composition Analysis:

As we now understand how important it is to know the actual composition of the soil where our plants are growing, this technical bulletin introduces the reader to what particles comprise any particular soil and a technique called "A Jar Test". It also gives specific instructions on how to perform a "Jar Test", and a link to our analyser that will convert your measurements into percent and provide the resultant "Soil Type" for that sample.

tap photo to read TB1472
Drainage Quick Test:

A comprehensive discussion of how the "standard 24 hour test" was converted to a "Quick Drain Test" which is much easier to perform. Instructions for performing this test are also included.

tap photo to read TB1473
Drainage 24 Hour Test:

The 24 hour Drain Test has been standard in the industry for many years. Its primary use began in areas of the Country with more rainfall. In desert regions, Irrigation is not applied when the ground is wet or soaked (which is the fundamental aspect of this test). This Tip can help to explain the difference between the two tests.

tap photo to use the Jar Test Analyser
Jar Test Analyser

This handy online tool directly converts the measurements you obtain from the Jar Test into: percentage of Sand - Silt and Clay; then classifies that combination into SOIL TYPE (see soil triangle below). This will save you lots of time.

tap photo to read TB1480
Soil Amendments:

Soil is primarily composed of: Sand, Silt and Clay. Amendments are what we add to this in order to achieve proper drainage and create the basis for a healthy living soil for our plants. This Tip gives a better understand of which amendments do what and how to use them.

tap photo to read TB1482
Understanding Soil Composition:

In order to have a clear understanding of the many different types of soil composition (and just what soil composition means), this tip provides some basic information on this subject. Properly understanding the basics helps anyone trying to improve their planting or established plant health and vigor to achieve success.

tap photo to read TB1481
Critical Aspects for Soil Composition:

This tip provides insight as to the most critical aspects for soil composition. The reasons that these are so important, as well as how to go about achieving this.

tap photo to read TB1483
Bad Soil Remediation:

Often there are plants that struggle due to bad soil and mismatched irrigation. This tip will explain some techniques for improving the soil structure and irrigation performance.

tap photo to use the Garden Pro-I Calculator
Garden Calculator Pro-I:

This "online tool" was designed to be used on a cell phone where you can be right at the plant site and location of the new or existing plant; after answering a few questions this will provide comprehensive instructions for; plant hole size, amendment formulas, irrigation design and timer scheduling. When you complete one plant, you can take a screenshot and move onto a different plant. You can even send the result to your client.