Preparing Soil

Preparing Your Soil

Soil is the most important aspect of gardening.


Understanding your soil guides you in watering and fertilizing your plants. The result is healthier, more beautiful plants.


Reasons to analyze soil

If you know what your soil is lacking, you can correct it.

  • Learn what type of soil composition you have (clay, sandy etc.)
  • Find out what your soil is lacking (nutrients, micronutrients, etc.)
  • Pinpoint soil pH (alkaline or acid)
  • Bring your results to Calloway’s/Cornelius and we will help you determine how to amend your soil for the best results


Spade with Soil

Expanded Shale

  • Porous and lightweight, this fine-grained rock is formed from clay or mud
  • Opens up and aerates heavy clay soils
  • Allows for healthier root systems; improves soil drainage
  • Holds water during droughts
  • Helps reduce soil temperature extremes
  • Optimum recommendation: add 3 inches to soil
  • One-time treatment, doesn’t decompose


Organic Matter

  • Helps sandy soils hold moisture and nutrients
  • Loosens tight clay soils so water and fertilizers are more readily available
  • Reduces soil’s alkalinity
  • Reduces erosion by reducing run-off
  • Promotes microbial activity for a more healthy soil



  • Soil nutrients (N-P-K) and micronutrients are vital for plant growth
  • Complete fertilizers contain three primary nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). 
  • Bags of fertilizer contain three numbers, such as 5-3-3 which represent a percentage of N-P-K in that bag. For example, a bag of 5-3-3 fertilizer contains 5% N, 3% P and 3% K.


Soil Mix Products

(Flower Bed Mix, Tree and Shrub Planting Mix): Enhance your soil with a mix designed for Texas gardens.

  • Stabilizes and balances soil
  • Allows for faster, more vibrant growth
  • Contains several organic components

Girl planting Japanese Maple











Types of mulch include Pine Bark, Hardwood, Cedar and Organic Compost.

  • Minimizes soil compaction
  • Attracts earthworms and other beneficial life
  • Retains moisture
  • Minimizes weed problems
  • Protects against erosion
  • Optimum recommendation: 3 inches of mulch


Bed Preparation

  • Add expanded shale if you have a lot of clay in your soil
  • Add an equal portion of organic matter like compost or planting mix
  • Mix all soil supplements into the top 6-8 inches of the planting area
  • A tiller makes this much easier and can be rented at most equipment rental companies
  • Add 3 inches of mulch on top for the finishing touch