When you move to Texas it’s good to know about the dirt. It will save you lots of headaches when it comes to your foundation, your garden or your horses.
In a state with more than 1300 types of soils, each with a specific set of properties- it’s no wonder homeowners are confused about how to manage their soil that is suitable for plants, animals and their foundations. Here in Texas we have blackland clay, sandy loam, sand, yellow clay, and alluvial soil just to name a few. It’s best not to guess about your foundation soil. Have it tested by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program http://soiltesting.tamu.edu. Or, the Texas Plant and Soil Lab http://texasplantandsoillab.com/soil-testing.asp
Soils even in residential yards will vary greatly. I think I have 4 different types on soil in my own yard. Be sure to do soil testing in your flower beds and vegetable garden areas and around the homes foundation. The characteristics and behavior of different soils can have a huge impact on the performance of your foundation. The soil will expand when wet and contract when dry and and the clay soils are the worst. I’ve seen cracks in the blackland soil you could lose a cat in when it gets dry. By not keeping a moderate moisture at a constant level could cost you thousands in foundation repairs.
Watering the ground around your foundation to prevent uneven foundation settling is common here in Texas. Watering should be consistent and moist but not wet. How do you know if it’s too wet? Turn over a shovel of dirt, if the top 2 or 3 inches is wet and the dirt below is dry then you are just right.
Plant placement is also important to your foundation. Keep most plants about 5 feet or more away from the foundation. Proper drainage is also very important. Lots of homes come with no gutters but gutters are really important part of foundation maintenance. They help keep a consistent moisture level during the rains.
When it comes to your gardens, you won’t get good production unless your plants get the correct nutrients. So soil testing is vital. Also stressed plants attract bugs. I don’t like bugs!
Now for the horse people. Look for properties that have sandy loam, period. The blackland prairie is very hard on the horses feet. Their feet get packed with the clay and usually pick up small rocks that cause abscesses and that is not good. If you want a nice vet bill buy some blackland property for your horses otherwise buy some sandy loam property with nice big Oak and Pecan trees.