What Is Different About Soil In An Urban Environment?


When we talk about soil in an urban environment they are referred to as urban soil. Or soil that is

“ extensively influenced by human activities, found mostly but not only in urban areas.”


So basically, it is soil that has been disturbed by humans. Which when you think about it are a lot of the soils which we see and walk on day today. Most of us live in an urban environment whether it be a town or city. There is probably very little of the world left that has been untouched by humans in some way.

So why is it important to note what an urban soil is?

Because the soil in an urban environment has been influenced and changed by humans this altered soil can have an effect on human health, plants, organisms and prevent the natural processes from occurring as they should. A good example of this is water infiltration into the soil. Often in urban environments water runs off the soil in overland flow rather than penetrating into the ground. The soils in urban areas are also often contaminated. Some of these contaminants may be dangerous and toxic, however, others might be something as simple as someone’s buried household waste in their backyard. I know I have dug up a few random things when working on properties over the years.

How we determine how healthy a soil is?

When you look at soil it is not always easy to determine how healthy it is. However, you can do testing to determine what soil health is. This testing is slightly different from determining what the soil properties are. If you are building the architect or engineer will get a soil test done to understand what they need to do to keep the structure up. These tests don’t always tell you what you need to do to make the soil healthier. However, it is very easy and does not cost a lot more money to ask for these tests to be included when you are getting soil testing done. So, my advice is to always ask for this to be done at the same time. This will provide a great advantage in the success of the planting.

You can also test the soil properties at home if you like DIY and a bit of experimentation.  Soil testing kits are available from most hardware stores.

What does this mean for your project?

If you understand the existing soil on your site and what it’s made of, it means if it needs to be changed to make it better you know what to do. It also means that you can choose the right plants for your project which will grow well in the soil you have. It at this point you are like I don’t know what she is talking about remember my soil is like baking a cake analogy? If not see it here. When making a cake you make sure you have great ingredients to ensure it turns out perfectly. It’s the same with soil. You can make sure you know the right ingredients to add to ensure you have healthy soil and a successful project.  

If this seems a little complicated and you need some help with this to make sure your landscape will look amazing. Give us a call, we love to talk about soils and help you improve yours.

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