Show Notes


  • Simple principle
    • Good organic matter
    • Support microbes
    • Good moisture
    • Good air
  • What is soil
    • Physical
      • Texture
        • Granular size of soil
        • Sand
          • Large particle sizes
          • High permeability
          • Benefits
            • Well drained
          • Risks
            • High nutrient loss
            • Erosion prone
            • Drought prone
        • Silt
          • Medium particle sizes
          • Permeable
          • Benefits
            • Generally higher nutrient availability
            • Well drained
          • Risks
            • High nutrient loss
            • Erosion prone
            • Poor structure
        • Clay
          • Small particle size
          • Low permeability
          • Benefits
            • Increased mineral access
            • Stronger structure
          • Risks
            • Prone to cracking in drought
            • Low permeability
            • High compaction
            • Prone to waterlogging
        • Loam
          • Mixture of various particle sizes
          • Ideal condition
          • Allows good aggregation
          • Risks
            • Nutrient loss
          • Structure
            • Shape and size of clumps
            • Affects drainage
        • All conditions
          • Organic matter improves
            • Aggregation
            • Drainage
            • Moisture retention
            • Nutrient availability
          • Acts as a sponge
          • Life matrix
    • Biological
      • Microbes to invertebrates
        • Bacteria
        • Fungi
        • Protozoa
        • Invertebrates
          • Insects
          • Arthropods
            • Spiders, centipedes, pillbugs, mites
          • Worms
        • All levels crucial to maintaining good nutrient cycling
      • Fungi, bacteria
        • Primary importance
        • Cell-level associations with plants
        • Interact with roots
        • Fungi
          • Massive cell networks
          • Increase plant root access
        • Bacteria
          • Nitrogen availability
        • Both
          • Dissolve minerals
          • Provide nutrients
          • Plant-microbe exchange
            • Proteins, carbohydrates
            • Clumps soil together
          • Normalizes pH
          • Disease defense
        • Requirements
          • Air
          • Water
          • Carbon
  • How to build and maintain good soil
    • Organic matter buildup
    • Keep it covered
    • Plant roots
    • Enhance soil life
    • Prevent waterlogging
    • Prevent use of chemicals
      • Reduces life
      • Adds salts to soil
      • Focus on gentler approaches
    • Avoid compaction
      • Focus walking
      • Reduce heavy equipment
      • Mulching
    • Reduce general disturbance
      • Repeated tilling
      • Buffer Heavy traffic
      • Pet urine – provide safe area
        • High carbon
      • Erosion prevention

Links for today’s episode:

this is the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

I’m Ben Hale your virtual design guide

to help you and your family have a

healthy beautiful landscape with less

work what’s up and welcome to episode 11

of the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

today is all about how to have good soil

in your yard we talked a lot about in

the past episodes how important soil is

and I’ve kind of touched on it but I’ve

never really gone in-depth and so this

episode is just gonna be about soil

that’s right the dirt under your feet

and the life that lives in it and how

important that is for your yard your

gardens your plants in your yard your

lawn good soil is crucial to good health

in plants and so today that’s what we’re

gonna be getting into and man I love

this stuff I you know I definitely sound

like a nerd right now but the more I

learn about soil the more fascinated I

am and it’s crazy how little we know

about soil especially when it comes to

soil life and how that correlates to

soil health in plant health and we’re

just on the cusp of learning tons of

stuff in this area and it’s incredibly

fascinating so what I’m gonna do today

is is try not to get too nerdy about

stuff try not to get too excited and

instead I’m gonna try to distill down

the the key elements of what makes good

soil health from a physical standpoint a

chemical standpoint and from a

biological standpoint and what that

means for your yard what it means for

your plants and and your your landscape

your lawn and and how that correlates to

low maintenance this stuff all ties

together very closely so when you have

good soil health you most likely have

healthy plants and that correlates to

less work for you to maintain these

plants because you have happier plants

so that’s how this all ties together and

with that let’s get into it today and

I’m gonna give you a quick sound bite

here if if you needed to switch off this

episode right now

listen to this first and then turn it

off and go about your day and you’ve

learned everything you need to know

about soil of course I’d love you for

you to stay around them and being a

little tongue-in-cheek here but but good

soil comes down to this these simple

principles good soil requires good

organic matter to support microbial life

to have good moisture levels and good

air distribution that’s it guys if you

get all of these things right you’re

gonna have good healthy soil I get and

so if you already know how to do this

stuff you can turn off the episode right

now and and don’t listen anything else

so this is the part where you know drop

the mic walk off the stage that’s it end

of presentation right so so with that

you know if if you guys know what you’re

talking about already when it comes to

maintaining good organic matter

supporting microbial life good moisture

and air that’s basically what I’m

talking about today as far as good soil

now of course I’m sure you want to learn

way more about this and I’m not gonna

teach you enough you know as much as you

want to nerd out on this as well but I’m

gonna distill down through the rest of

this episode what the physical makeup of

soil is and why it’s important what the

biological makeup of healthy soil is and

then how to create this condition how to

create good healthy soil so that’s the

rest of the episode basically in us in a

nutshell so let’s get right into it so

what is soil soil is the when we get to

the physical standpoint the dirt right

when you hear a lot of agricultural

people in conventional agriculture talk

about their soil usually what they’re

referring to is the dirt the the

physical makeup of their soil and and

how it relates to their plants that’s

kind of the conventional approach to

soil is is really the the non-life part

of it and and that’s only one element

but it’s also a very important element

and that’s the part that’s been focused

on in the past say a hundred years when

it relates to to supporting plant life

and and we do know that certain

chemicals you know chemical levels are

very important that’s why we have NPK

fertilizers nitrogen

and potassium fertilizers those are

three primary nutrients out of many many

nutrients that plants need you know

depending upon who you talk to certain

you know places they you know you have

the NPK fertilizer that’s all you need

according to some people right while

other people there’s the other end of

the spectrum where now it’s thought that

there’s up to maybe 50-plus

micronutrients that so these are

different salts and minerals that plants

need in order to to survive in order to

have proper functioning systems and I’m

certainly towards the latter end of that

spectrum where the more micronutrients

present in the soil the healthier the

plants are going to be and of course you

have to have the right levels so how do

you guarantee that right personally for

me I believe it’s and a lot of soil

scientists are beginning to believe that

it’s due to the biological life

underneath the surface and that’s how

you get the right balance so so yeah you

have this one spectrum where where you

have the chemical makeup of your soil

what what minerals do you need and and

how do you make them available plants

and then you also have the physical

structure as well so these are the

particulate matter so let’s get into it

so texture texture of your soil is the

granular size of soil so you your

typical references here are sand silt

clay in loam sand is made up of larger

particle sizes you generally speaking

the characteristics of sandy soil are

you have relatively high permeability so

that means you have relatively high air

levels in your soil and also water can

percolate through the soil pretty

quickly with sandy soil some of the


well one particular benefit is these

soils sandy soils are well-drained so

they’re less likely to become

waterlogged and when you come when your

soil becomes waterlog you generally have

anaerobic processes and it’s not

generally good for soil health some of

the risks of sandy soil are you have

higher nutrient loss because it drains

so well your nutrients they don’t stay

aggregated in your soil as easily and

you have good soil health sandy soils

are prone to erosion so water can

disrupt the structure of the soil and

wash it away and of course because they

drain while you’re also drought prone

with sandy soils so moving on up in size

you’ve got silt soils silt soils are

medium particle sizes generally speaking

they’re relatively permeable and some of

the benefits of silt soil is you have

generally speaking again a higher

nutrient availability in your soil

because it’s part of those larger

particles and you have better

aggregation of your soil generally

speaking than sandy soil your silts are

also still considered generally speaking

well-drained so they they don’t have a

tendency to become waterlogged like

denser soils some of the risks of silt

soil is you still are prone to high

nutrient loss erosion prone and just the

inert salt soy as can also have poor

structure so it doesn’t hold together as

well as some of the other soils when you

move down in particle size you go to

clay and clay is very small particle

size it’s relatively low permeability

can compared to the other soils and

there’s of course with all these types

there’s a range and so some of your very

small particle size clays and depending

upon the mineral makeup as well they can

be very dense you can have very hard

compacted soils with clay and some of

the benefits for clay soils is you do

have increased mineral access for plants

and microorganisms and you also have

generally speaking stronger structure to

clays now some of the the risks as you

see there’s risks and advantages to all

of these soil types risks are prone to

cracking and drought so your your soils

can actually crack apart and break up

and they’re relatively low permeability

they’re prone to high compaction and

they’re also prone to water logging so

when you have a lot of water especially

in recessed areas you can you can

get waterlogged soils and stagnant areas

so one other soil type I mentioned is

loam and if you hear much about

especially in the the vegetable

gardening world you might hear a lot

about loam and and as being the ideal

soil and generally speaking this is a

more preferred soil condition compared

to others and what loam is is a mixture

of various particle sizes and this

allows good aggregation you do generally

speaking have good drainage but at the

same time you have those good aggregates

of soil so the soil is able to clump

together as well and these are both

advantageous and that’s why this is

considered more of an ideal condition

than any in one of the previous textures

of your soil some of the risks to loam

is it’s still prone to nutrient loss or

leaching of minerals and you notice I

mentioned in all of these types of soil

that they can be prone to nutrient loss

and the the one exception was was a clay

I didn’t mention it for clay but it’s

still possibility but because of its

density it’s less possible

so with loam you can’t really create

loam it’s just a presence in your your

base structure or any of these soils

really this is what your soil does based

on the the mineral deposits below your

soil so the your soil basically on a

chemical and physical standpoint is

generally speaking the the eroded parts

of the subsurface below it so your

bedrock below it what is it made up of

if it’s a you know a compacted River

silt that is thousands or hundreds of

thousands or millions of years old or is

it is it dense limestone or is it shale

or or so on and so forth so depending

upon the lower levels loose oily that

that influences or even dictates what

type of soil you have on the surface so

it’s very tough to kind of amend these

conditions unless you completely import

new soil from somewhere else and so

instead we want to figure out how to

create healthy soil with the soil we

have usually that’s the easiest process

that’s the least expensive and generally

in ends up being the best for your

plants and and also just less work in

general so that’s the the texture and

the next often discussed characteristic

is structure and just to touch upon

structure real quickly it relates to the

shape and size of the clumps in your

soil so how does it clump and this is

still generally on the small scale so

examples of structures you might have

very loose structure that does not clump

very well so it’s particulate or you

might have a pillar type structure where

where you have pillars of different

materials stacked on top of each other

or a plate structure where it generally

prevent it kind of compresses really

easily and you you you prevent water

permeability with that type of structure

and so your your soil structure is based

on the physical characteristics as well

and how it tends to aggravate together

and and with that you influence how

nutrients pass through including water

passes through your soil or retain in it

and that just affects your soil overall

so these are good things to know they’re

not that’s all I’m gonna touch on for

now because it’s kind of you know I

don’t want to get too academic here I

wanted to stay with the practical stuff

it’s good to know this stuff just so you

have a general idea of certain types of

plants especially when it comes to the

texture the texture does influence the

structure and so especially with the

texture it’s good to know what type of

soil texture you have which is the

particle size of your soils and so if

you generally know like I have clay or I

have clay loam or have sandy soil or

sandy loam or I have a silt clay mixture

those are good things to know because it

influences how water and nutrients

interact with your soil how prone it may

be to erosion or nutrient loss or

compaction and what types of plants grow

in those conditions so that’s why it’s

important okay so when it comes to all

of these conditions I’m going to make

some broad generalizations here one

organic matter

improves all of these soils so if you

improve your soil with organic matter

you get better soil that’s the bottom

line here organic matter improves

aggregation so the clumping of your soil

the better aggregates you have the more

nutrients you keep in there the more

life you can support and the more plants

you can support organic matter improves

drainage when it’s poor draining soil it

also improves moisture retention in in

drought prone sales so it does both and

that’s why it’s great this is organic

matter is like the ultimate mediator it

plays the middleman in so many

situations when it comes to your soil

and also improves nutrient availability

and what I mean by this is and what I’m

talking about organic matter here we’re

talking kind of about the physical

structure so carbon material is what

organic matter is so this is dead plant

material essentially speaking and it

really comes hand-in-hand with soil life

so I’m making a broad generalization

here that organic matter kind of

attracts soil life and so they play

hand-in-hand so when I’m talking about

organic matter this is basically if you

have organic matter there you’re gonna

have life there because both support

each other and and they’re both really

important so the last one is organic

matter improves nutrient availability

and this is in part with the soil life

present there basically what happens is

organic matter acts as a sponge right it

soaks up water it releases water it

reduces compaction because it has these

pore sizes in between it and it also

just allows nutrients to be held within

the soil as well that’s very important

for plant life and it’s kind of like a

life matrix for your for your plants and

it’s full of life itself and and

therefore it also supports plants that

are attracted to that so let’s get

that’s perfect segue into the biological

aspects of your soil so when I’m

referencing soil biology I’m

specifically talking about the microbes

to invertebrate level of your soil so


a wide range of diversity here and and

really we don’t even begin to touch upon

the the amount of diversity that’s

present in soil with this podcast but

but this kind of touches on the the vast

array of different types of organisms

that live in your soil and and without

biology in your soil what you have is

dirt and with dirt you end up having

erosion and you basically decrease to

the base layer so you turn to desert

basically so without the life you you

just have an inert substrate that

inevitably erodes to nothing except for

your base minerals and so this has how

important this stuff is it’s how

important it is in your own yard to take

care of soil life because without soil

life you don’t have plant health that’s

the new reality essentially what you’re

gonna have is think about like on a

rocky Craig you know you have that

gnarled tree kind of twisting its way

through the rock and growing out of the

the crevices of the rock and you see how

rugged that tree is well that’s that’s

kind of a metaphor for your plants when

they’re when they’re in a soil that’s

highly compacted or highly deficient

nutrients in soil life you’re in you end

up having a stressed out plant that’s

kind of clinging on to life in and

trying to scrape by it in any any way

it’s can that’s not what we want with

our landscape unless unless maybe that

is what you want with your landscape I

guess and this probably isn’t the right

podcast for you because because

basically then you’re you’re cultivating

some gnarly plant style maybe maybe

that’s cool I guess the picturesque

style or whatever right so if that’s you

let me know how it goes and maybe maybe

you’re onto something but but for

everybody else so soil life is is

crucial to the health of your plants and

so let’s get into learning about what it

is and then how to enhance it so when

you’re talking about your microbes and

invertebrates let’s break that down a

little so you have your bacteria is kind

of the base level so they’re little


very simple organisms but they perform

such crucial functions that that we

can’t even comprehend at some levels but

very important organisms and even though

they’re so small there they have some

highly sophisticated processes and the

reason I’m so excited about this stuff

guys is I do I have a background in

microbiology of all things and so of

course I love this stuff and this is

kind of where I nerd out but fortunately

for you this stuff is really important

and so I have some knowledge and some

background to share with you here that

hopefully can help you with your

landscape so bacterial important next a

fungi fungi so your your fungal species

vast array of diversity here as well so

you have both molds and yeast as part of

the fungi and and they’re both very

important especially your molds usually

you know microbes get a bad rap and so

do insects and invertebrates but but the

reality is there is predominantly a huge

amount of good and beneficial organisms

and all these levels that are very

important for your plants and we’re just

recently discovering this in the past

you know a couple decades of how

important these things are for plants

and so the pests are actually the few

and far between compared to the

beneficial ones and here’s the secret

guys if you support and the beneficial

insects and microbes you reduce the

amount of pests and pest problems you

have so that’s kind of an indicator that

your soil health is struggling when you

have these problems these pest problems

so it might be route molds or it might

be fungal problems on your plant leaves

and that’s an indication that you have a

problem with your your beneficial

biological health and same goes for

insect problems it means you don’t have

the right amount of beneficial insects

to take care of the problems so okay off

the soapbox back to the instructional

piece right the educational piece so

fungal networks are incredibly important

so your fungi import are important next

you have protozoa so these are a little

creatures there actually if you if you

want like Google protozoa images like

some of these things are just

fascinating the way they look and

they’re these little intricate cellular

structures that are just amazing to kind

of take a look at and they’re these

little microscopic organisms and they do

wonderful things for your soil again so

you have of course good protozoa bad

pursue these are all of course

classifications that we place on them

but but when it comes to plant health in

soil health you have good and bad

predominantly good again so what we want

to support is the good stuff right and

then we move on to invertebrates so

these are your insects your arthropods

so spiders and centipedes pill bugs and

mites they’re all very good parts of

nutrient cycling and your worms as well

so you have like little microscopic

nematodes and you have your earth ones

so a huge variety vast array of life

here we’re talking about and so as you

can imagine with these thousands

probably hundreds of thousands of

species that I’m just covering in those

few sentences these are some broad

generalizations that I’m going to cover

here when it comes to soil life but in

general all these things do benefit your

overall soil health and your soil food

web so the soil food web just a little

aside here this is kind of a recent term

that’s been coined by dr. Elaine Ingham

out of Oregon she’s done some wonderful

stuff about understanding the soil food

web and how it all works together and

how it cycles nutrients and how crucial

it is for plants a lot of her stuff is

it’s for agricultural purposes of course

but but this goes for your your lawn as

well so having beneficial soil health

for your lawn is going to greatly reduce

issues you have with your lawn so I’ll

provide a link to some of her stuff in

the show notes it’s worth checking out

as well as a link I think I found a link

to an article she wrote for the USDA

that’s really interesting as well a good

good summary of the soil food web so

worth checking out if this is kind of

interesting to you so what the point I

want to make with all these different


I list off is that all of these levels

are crucial crucial to maintaining good

nutrient cycling so nutrient cycling is

basically the availability of nutrients

whether it’s minerals or amino acids

basically the backbone of the life

structure of your plants all of these

levels of organs so your bacteria or

fungi or protozoa

all of your invertebrates they’re all

very helpful in cycling nutrients back

to plants again so dead plant material

back to plants as well as your mineral

rock material to plants as well so they

they perform both of these functions

which is amazingly awesome when you

think they can actually dissolve rock

and make it available to plants it’s

pretty awesome stuff okay so let’s just

talk a little bit about some of these

different organisms specifically what

I’m going to cover here is just the

fungi and bacteria so the the other

organisms are also important but I want

to stress the fungi and bacteria beasts

especially because it’s there’s not as

much known about these it’s a newer

thing and so a lot of people haven’t

heard about it

so both fungi and bacteria of are of

primary importance to soil health they

have cell level associations with plants

so on the cellular level they connect

with plant cells and that provide

communications to plants and more

importantly to nutrients to plants back

and forth so so plants actually help

support bacterial and fungal health and

and especially the you know good

bacteria and fungi and in return

bacteria and fungi fungi produce

nutrients that the plants can take up

and use as well sometimes just their

wastes are beneficial to plants so

especially at the root zone this is

where they interact most often and this

is why you know we don’t really know a

whole lot about us because when it’s

relatively new because you look at a

plant you see the upper level right but

not the lower level the iceberg

you know same analogy you know you see

the tip of the iceberg which is the plan

but the root zone is just just as

important if not more important because

that’s where the plant receives most of

its nutrients from and then it pulls it

up from underneath the surface and

that’s where the the top level machinery

then kicks into gear and and you know

photosynthesis happens right where you

turn you use sunlight to turn co2 into

carbon that builds the backbone of the

plant right they’re both important but

the soil piece is is often forgotten

okay so especially with fungi what you

have you know I use fungi and fungi

interchangeably it’s I don’t know it’s

kind of fun for me and I just I haven’t

chosen which one I like better so bear

with me there all right so so fungi they

they can produce these massive cell

networks we’re talking like hundreds of

square feet even of just the same like

fungal organism that kind of builds

these awesome networks that kind of

reach out and find all these different

nutrients throughout the soil and and

kind of pull it back and it’s basically

this giant transportation network of

nutrients and moisture back and forth

throughout the fungal Network and it

also intertwines with plant roots and so

it can actually that’s where I said it

kind of actually can communicate with

plants as well as transport nutrients to

the plants as well and there’s kind of a

beneficial interaction between both the

plants and some of these fungal species

where by doing this both the plant and

the fungus benefit

this increases the plant root access so

if you think about it especially as Ike

in drought prone areas or where you get

a like a flash rain right a tunnel rain

well sometimes these these fungal

networks kind of sit there dormant and

suddenly after a rain they like shoot

out really fast and and soak up a bunch

of water and nutrients or or whatever

and and kind of deliver it to the plant

and they kind of support each other then

and then the dormant phase the plant can

kind of store up this water and it kind

of helps with the fungal Network as well

so it’s it’s this awesome kind of dance

between the two

– two very very different organisms to

support each other now bacteria are also

very important so these are the

single-celled organisms that the one

really key benefit for certain bacteria

I want to pull out is this is only

certain species but they have the veil

ability to fix nitrogen some of these

species and especially with certain

plants they’ve formed these associations

so it’s particularly particularly your

your AC a species so that’s the family

of plants the common common ones you can

think of are like peas and peanuts are

both in this family and you’re right so

via plants as well do the similar things

so a good example of nitrogen fixers is

very common is your clovers right so

clovers trifolium species they’re night

they have nitrogen fixing associations

with soil bacteria and so as you hear

from you know NPK right typical

fertilizers nitrogen is very important

it helps build proteins in all life

really but for the plants accessing

nitrogen is very important so that so

the bacteria can actually take nitrogen

out of the air and convert it into a

bioavailable form for for themselves and

for the plants as well so they have this

root Association where they create a

space for the bacteria to grow on their

roots these little little nodules and

and the bacteria colonized them and they

they fixed nitrogen from the air so this

is why you know air permeation through

the soil is also really important which

I’ll touch on later but they fixed

nitrogen from the air and then it’s

available for uptake by the plant and

there’s a you know a beneficial

interaction there as well so for both

bacteria and fungi another a couple more

points to make here is they dissolve

minerals I mentioned in earlier where

they can secrete acids or various

chemicals that actually dissolve the

rock mineral substrate of your soil

particulates so your sand particles or

your clay particles

and they can actually dissolve them and

make them available for uptake by by

microbes and by plants themselves they

provide nutrients so this is a wide vast

array of nutrients whether it’s the the

minerals we talked about or nitrogen or

organic material through their dead

cells all sorts of various nutrients

there’s a plant to microbe exchange

which are kind of touched on but plants

actually secrete proteins and

carbohydrates and other materials that

attract bacteria and fungi to themselves

to grow so it’s basically they’re

they’re secreting substrates so your

carbohydrates are like your flour and

sugars right and so a Laningham actually

talked about plants make cakes and

cookies for for your microbes so

basically that’s what it is it’s protein

and which is part of your you know

flowers and carbohydrates as well as

part of your flour and then you have

sugar you know the proteins are like

your eggs as well so it’s basically this

mixture that that makes up the same kind

of stuff as like cakes and cookies so

it’s like treats for bacteria and fungi

to live off of and in return they

provide all these nutrients back to the

plant and part of what this stuff does

to is it actually helps form these

aggregates in your your soil so some of

these secretions both from from microbes

as well as from the plants help form

aggregates of your soil so it prevents

some of these nutrients being washed

away when you have water percolating

through your soil or air blowing across

the surface it helps keep the stuff

locked in the soil and trapped there for

use by plants and microbes so you can

understand maybe why I’m so fascinated

about this stuff is because it’s this

this delicate but fascinating dance

between all these different levels of

life to actually create more life out of

something that’s just a physical

substrate so super cool stuff I guess

here a couple more things to touch on

that I jotted down here

organic matter especially the life in

your soil when it or interacts with all

this organic matter it actually

normalizes your pH it creates an optimal

growing condition for your plants and

optimal condition for bacteria and fungi

and and all your other invertebrates as

well so it takes your highly basic or

your highly acidic soils it kind of

brings them back just do a little bit

below neutral so a slightly acidic

condition which is preferred by most

organisms most plants and in microbes as

well and last of course with this giant

massive network of health you also get a

disease defense so they kind of help

support each other they’re all healthy

they’re all happy and they they’re more

resistant as a disease and it’s also

kind of it’s tougher for disease

organisms to take hold and replicate

because these these available spaces are

already occupied by all these these

healthy and beneficial organisms so it’s

basically like there’s like a no room at

the inn sign kind of hanging out and

next to the plant roots saying look you

know we’re sorry you can’t invade here

because it’s already taken and there’s

also defenses put up for them as well so

when it comes to all this stuff all this

biological life right very important as

you can tell but there’s some simple but

very important requirements for this

this biological life to occur in your

soil in the way that it’s healthy for

plants so the first this isn’t in any

order but the first is air so air is

important actually for soil as well as

your plants above the ground but for

it’s important for there to be air

interaction because aerobic organisms

are are healthier in general for your

plants than anaerobic organisms because

anaerobic soils are more the disease

condition of a lot of pathogens kind of

hang out and in a aerobic or anaerobic

soils so anaerobic is without oxygen is

what it means Arabic means with oxygen

so the more aerobic soil you have the

more oxygen you have in your soil

to create a healthy life and it also

helps with a lot of other stuff too but

that’s that’s enough for now

water water is of course important as

well so we know water is important for

plants right well it’s also important

for the microbes and of course healthy

balance of both these things is really

important about healthy balance of air

healthy balance of water and carbon

carbon is also important so the more

carbon you have present in your soil the

more carbon you have present to help

support all this life that we’re talking

about so it’s and that’s why all these

all those higher level organisms are

really good at cycling carbon back into

the soil so your your invertebrates your

worms they’re you know they’re chewing

up dead plant material recycling it back

in your soil to make it available more

available to fungal access and bacterial

access and back to the plants again so

it’s it’s this beautiful cycle that

happens okay so now you love soil just

as much as me you know all about it

enough to start googling for hours and

hours and hours to learn more about it

of course and you want to have healthy

soil in your yard right that’s what it

comes down to right you understand okay

healthy soil equals healthy plants I

want healthy plants because that equals

less work and I want less work right

okay that’s you so how do you do it

right okay how to build and maintain

good soil so when it comes to building

and maintaining good soil if you haven’t

already understood this organic matter

build-up is really important so the more

organic matter you have present in your

soil anchored into your soil the more

available it is to nutrient or to

microorganisms which makes those

nutrients available to plants right so

all that that beautiful cycle so organic

matter is important

keeping your soil covered is really

important because the more exposed it is

to elements the less able it is to stay

buffered with temperature with with air

evaporation with Sun UV exposure all

those things can degrade your soil so if

you think about a healthy forest right

the soil floor and a healthy forest is

is just teeming with life it’s this

beautiful spongy stuff it smells

wonderful that’s what we’re going for


healthy soil is something like that or

even out in the Prairie right and

healthy Prairie if you dig down under

the all this dense grass mat that’s what

you get is this beautiful spongy soil

right so so if that soil is exposed to

the elements the whole top layer that

soil is going to start suffering it’s

gonna not be able to hold all those

those nutrients present there for the

plants and so we got to make sure we

keep it covered

it’s full of plant roots actually so

good soil the more plant coverage you

have the healthier soil because the

plants really help with anchoring soil

in place especially that your fibrous

root plants where they kind of pull

everything together and keep it there

and it also occupies the space to help

prevent weeds from coming in which are

have the same intent but they’re not

your desired intent with Beauty so so

either fill it with your own plant roots

that you want or it’s going to be filled

by something else or the soil is gonna

start becoming degraded enhance your

soil life of course maintains and builds

good soil and doing by building your

soil life there our are actually

biological amendments like compost tea

mycorrhizae fungi that you can purchase

to put in your soil or or some of these

rhizobia inoculum are the bacteria that

interact with certain certain

nitrogen-fixing plants you can actually

by soil life to put in your soil but you

can also just if you provide a good home

for it odds are it’s actually already

there in your soil it’s just not growing

and healthy so by providing the

substrates namely organic matter that’s

accessible you actually enhance your

soil life as well so preventing water

logging is another important thing to

maintain good soil so when your your

soil becomes waterlogged what that means

is it’s becoming absent of oxygen so

it’s drowning and when your soil starts

to drown it becomes anaerobic and that’s

when a lot of your pathogens come in and

you have start to have problems your

plants actually need most plants need

air access in their roots as well it’s

kind of something you wouldn’t think

about but when plants become submerged

in water of course there are plants

that grow in anaerobic soils but we’re

talking most of the plants you have that

you want in your landscape do not prefer

anaerobic soils and they do not prefer

what they call wet feet or to be

waterlogged so that they don’t the roots

don’t like to be submerged generally

speaking next okay prevent the use of

chemicals so some of you might be asking

okay why is that important right why

what what does that have to do with my

soil life well there’s a couple things

it actually does reduce your soil life

and this is a broad generalization but

most chemicals they’re the synthetic

chemicals they’re usually harsh

chemicals that that have negative

effects on your soil life specifically

your fungi in your bacteria in your soil

so even though they might have a

targeted effect on say certain plants or

whatever they generally speaking have a

negative effect on your your microbial

life in your soil and another thing they

do is a lot of times these chemicals

have salts added to them especially your

synthetic fertilizers they’re the way

the nutrients are delivered is through

the presence of salts and these salts

this salt buildup in your soil is

negative to plant health there are a lot

of species that are salt tolerant that

grow in brackish areas brackish like sea

water areas but in general most plants

do not like having a high level of salt

so the higher amounts of salt the

negative it is more negative is to your

plants and also the more negative it is

to negative did I say that right I’m not

going to rewind and check so the more

negative it is to your microbes in your

soil as well so by using these chemicals

especially repeatedly you’re adding

salts to your soil so in general I wrote

recommend focusing on gentler approaches

when it comes to making nutrient

amendments or dealing with disease and

pest problems avoiding compaction is

also really important when it comes to

building and maintaining good soil so

this is where if you focus walking on to

specific areas that are with plants that

maybe can handle compaction and compact

soils or focusing walking onto hard

paths and this really prevents soil

compaction broadly across your landscape

now you say okay I want to you know I

want to be able to play on my lawn I

wanted to you know have my kids be able

to run around whatever well that’s fine

actually it’s it’s where there’s heavily

concentrated and repeated use you want

to avoid compaction because you’re going

to deal with some difficult plant growth

issues so if there’s specific areas we

have a lot of traffic you might want to

consider putting in some footpaths

or something like that you also want to

reduce when it comes to compaction you

want to reduce heavy equipment use this

might even be just driving your vehicles

across your your lawn all the time in

your yard the more often you do that the

more you can you compact your soil and

the more issues you’re gonna have with

maintaining good soil health and last

mulching helps with this too so if you

have areas that might receive some

traffic but aren’t planted you can mulch

them mulch them heavily and it kind of

acts as this buffer for your for your

area okay there are two more pieces here

for building good soil so one is

reducing general disturbance and so by

general disturbance anything that kind

of disrupts your soil layers so your

soil is going to start naturally

striding out into various layers of life

and error availability and nutrient

levels and mineral levels and life

levels right and so the more you disturb

this the the less healthier soil is

going to be so the first thing is

repeated tilling of your soil can can

reduce the health of your soil in the

long run so you might get a with tilling

you kind of get an initial burst of life

sometimes as like you actually have a

lot of bacteria that down at lower

levels that don’t survive on the surface

or whatever potentially and vice versa

and so you get a lot of death of

microorganisms and that actually

provides a great boost of growth to your

plants in the short term

as they kind of take up all this dead

material right they can soak up some of

it as it’s being decomposed by other

organisms but at the same time over the

long run you’re reducing your soil

health by reducing the available life in

your soil and you’re also generally

speaking with tilling you as you break

up the upper layers you’re compacting

the lower layers so you’re making it

tougher and tougher for life to thrive

you also want to you buffer your heavy

traffic again as stated previously and

another thought I had here is pet urine

so if you have pets that run around

you’re specifically dogs that most

people have problems with you if you

have problems with pet urine spots

that’s because basically what’s

happening is is the urine is is burning

the soil layer on the top soil and so it

actually burns the plants but it also is

salting out your soil in that specific

area so what you can do is actually if

you provide a safe area for your pet to

use that’s high in carbon material so

this is high in leaf litter and wood

mulch and what it does is it provides a

balance of availability of nitrogen and

carbon that’s present in the the high

carbon material and it’s a healthier

level for your soil life so it’s

something to consider if you want to

have a pet waste area that is better for

your overall landscape now one last

thing here I want to talk about with

good soil very important so not like the

least important here but erosion

prevention is very important so

especially on slopes so the more well

planted the more well covered your soil

is with mulches and with plants and a

good plant root distribution throughout

your soil the less erosion you’re going

to have so it’s especially important to

consider on slopes because slopes are

very erosion prone anytime that the rain

drop can actually hit the soil surface

or anytime that water can concentrate

into one area and flow across it’s very

prone to erosion especially if you have

lesser density soils that can break away

quickly so important thing to consider

when it talked to you and we’re talking

about soil health

and definitely don’t miss out on that

one okay so that essentially wraps it up

for today guys I hope you enjoyed this

podcast just as a quick review here when

it comes to making good soil these

simple principles are having good

organic matter supporting microbial life

having good moisture and good air in

your soil is all very important soil is

made up of various physical and

biological components so you have your

granular size your texture of your soil

as well as the ability to clump the

structure of your soil and in general

organic matter improves soil health

because it helps with some of the

clumping and drainage issues of your

your inert soils your chemical soils

your physical soils and it also provides

a substrate for life and so when it

comes to life you have a huge vast array

of diversity you have microbes you have

invertebrates that all function together

with plants to provide healthy soil

provide nutrient availability and to

provide general health through your

plants and for maintaining and building

good soil you want to have good organic

matter you want to keep it covered you

want to have a good plant root

distribution you want to enhance your

soil life you want to prevent water

logging prevent use of chemicals avoid

compaction reduce general disturbance

and prevent erosion and so with that

guys yeah I hope you enjoyed this I

obviously I love this stuff and I think

it’s really cool we could talk for

probably hours and hours on this topic

and not not today but maybe in the

future we can go in more depth in

certain areas maybe but if you kind of

get these basics right if you work

toward these basics I guarantee you’re

going to improve your soil and with

improving your soil you’re gonna improve

your yard and and it’s gonna be end up

being less work for you in the long run

so if you can maintain good health once

you get it going to a certain extent the

plants basically start to take care of

themselves with very little inputs here

and there so that’s the ideal situation

that’s what we want to work towards and

and that’s how you know we this ties

into saving time in your yard so that

you can spend more time on important

things in your life

so with that guys if you want to save

time right now in your yard I have a

great resource that I’ve put together

for free over at ascetic ecosystems and

it’s how to save 20 hours 20 27 hours of

yard work just through simple habit

changes in your yard this season so if

you want to check that out go to

aesthetic ecosystems calm / to seven

hours and if you want to go deeper on


I have consulting services I have

available right now so if you need

specific help on something going over to

aesthetic ecosystems calm / consulting

you’ll see the options there for for

connecting with me and we’ll do some

digital consultation to talk about your

specific needs and you know work through

it together

so with that guys thanks for coming by

and check out the show notes make sure

you subscribe okay now it’s time to talk

about the launch party guys excuse me

not party but partay the launch party is

for the first two months of the show

from March 11th through May 11th 2018 I

want to have some fun to help spread a

wart spread the word about the show I

really appreciate your enthusiasm and

interest in this show and I want to get

you guys involved and have some fun

while we’re doing it so this is a chance

to have some fun too for us to get

connected to win some prizes and let’s

talk about the prizes before we talk

about what we’re doing so what are the

prizes weakly I’m offering a free

consultation with me Ben Hale which is

normally a $99 value so one person each

week that gets involved in the launch

partay gets a free consultation I’m also

giving away a free offer for one of my

ebooks ten ways to get more beauty with

less work which is the $19 value next

the grand prize there is only one of

these we’re giving away through this

whole launch party so at the end of the

launch partay the organic lawn care

manual by Paul Tookie so Paul to key

himself has offered to give away one

free book to a lucky winner that’s

getting involved in this launch party

and the

book is all about how to manage a

healthy lawn from anything from a golf

course style lawn to your low

maintenance lawn which of course is

something I prefer here on this show


I own this book I’ve read this book

multiple times I’ve give it away it’s a

kind of a tattered and worn version that

I have and I use some of these practices

in my own lines so I love this book and

I highly promoted as well and you’ll

hear me talk about it throughout the

show but Paul Tookie has been kind

enough to offer a copy of his book as a

grand prize and there’s also a special

surprise for everybody that’s going to

be getting involved in the launch partay

the rolling river nursery out of

California has offered a special

surprise for everybody that’s involved

the rolling river nursery is a USDA

certified organic nursery so I went

online and I looked around for nurseries

that have online availability ship

through the continental US and have some

great offerings and rolling River

nursery is being kind enough to become

involved with our launch party and

they’re not only are they online

availability but they also are certified

organic which means they don’t use any

harmful herbicides or pesticides that

you have to be concerned with your

family about and so what you’re getting

is a safe and healthy plant they also

offer a ton of edible plants and trees

and shrubs cacti and succulents so they

offer several trees and shrubs that are

adaptable throughout the most of the

United States so definitely worth

checking them out and in addition these

guys are also involved with a non-profit

in Southern California to help local

food movements called planting justice

org so if you want to learn more about

them you can go to rolling River nursery

calm and I also want to give a shout out

to Paul to Kies website for his organic

lawn care manual and his other works is

Paul to keep calm PA UL t uke Y and to

sum up guys okay you want to learn how

to get involved with this launch party

go over to aesthetic ecosystems calm

slash pod launch and that’s p OD lau nch

there’s a link in the show notes and

that’s that’s going to give you all the

instructions on how to get

there’s two ways specifically to get

involved one is through sharing with

your peeps on Facebook and the other is

through leaving a review on iTunes

both of these are gonna help spread the

word about the show and get other people

other friends listening to it as well

and I sure appreciate your help here and

and likewise this is gonna be a fun time

so so go on over and to aesthetic

ecosystems comm slash pod launch to get

involved oh and one more thing guys –

you know I’m open to if you want to have

a question featured on the show I’ve now

set up on my podcast page if you go over

to aesthetic ecosystems calm slash pod

you’ll see a button there you can click

to ask a question to get featured on the

show in the in the future so if you’re

having problems with something or if

you’re curious about something or maybe

it’s just a comment right for whatever

reason if you want to get involved I’d

love to hear from you and I’ll work on

getting you featured on the show here so

I go over to aesthetic ecosystems comm

slash pod and click on the button there

– leave me leave me some feedback and

with that guys thanks for tuning in make

sure you live with passion and make

tomorrow that isn’t today