Much To Report …

All the big stuff has changed:

  • Fell in love and got married
  • New job
  • New homeIMG_2363

Pictured above is the 1/3-acre backyard of a Mission Hills craftsman in south Mission Hills, San Diego, where we now live. We are descending into a finger canyon. There are avocado, persimmon, apricot and quince trees, and also roses, wisteria, and raised garden beds.

For fun, I used a soil survey tool to generate a soil report for the yard —  to plot out next steps to improve soil quality and plant performance with less water.

The tool:


The undeveloped parts of the yard are Gaviota, a fine sandy loam associated with canyons and hillsides. These are well-drained soils with low amounts of organic material.

The parent material for Gaviota is weathered calcareous sandstone, which implies a marine origin. Old beach and seafloor. Shells.

Sand-Silt-Clay Percentages

  •   Sand 66 percent
  •   Silt 20 percent
  •   Clay 14 percent

Soil Family: Lithic Xerorthents

The soil order is entisol, characterized by poorly defined soil horizons. The soil material is largely the same as parent bedrock. Not enough weathering and biology to form a thick top soil layer. These soils have at most 16 inches of top soil.

The soil family is Lithic Xerothents.

Bottom line

The soil is sandy, loamy, skeletal. The cation exchange capacity of this soil is low. The pH is non-acidic due to the calcium. Drainage is high because of the sand. This soil has a low water-holding capacity. This is not a fertile soil and is rates “poor” for agriculture. It is suited for rangeland.

Native Plants

California sage brush community would be natural to this area.


The native soil needs a lot of added organic material and fertilizers to support fruit trees. It is also a thirsty soil with high sand content and poor water holding capacity.

I need to focus on adding compost to build the soil structure. Mulch will help reduce water use. Ultimately, we need to transition to native plants or at least drought tolerant ones. This will be the easiest most beneficial choice for wildlife and us, too.


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