Make Your Soil Sponge-Like!

Building healthy, fertile soil enhances its sponge-like capacity, allowing it to receive and store more water, while at the same time improving its ability to slowly percolate water down to replenish ground water. It also supports stronger, healthier plants bolstering their natural defenses against pests and diseases. 

The practices below help build healthy, fertile soil and contribute to making a regenerative and resilient, water-holding landscape. By employing them, you can greatly reduce your need for potable water to irrigate your garden, and watch your water bill diminish as well!



Adding 2 - 4 inches of mulch to your landscape helps keep the soil beneath moist, reducing evaporation. It also protects the soil by reducing compaction and limiting topsoil erosion. Mulch made of organic material (such as wood chips, shredded bark, straw, leaves, pine needles or sawdust) also contributes to the improvement of soil fertility, by adding nutrients to the soil as it breaks down over time.


Composting keeps bio-degradable waste out of the landfill and puts it to use in the garden where it breaks down, adding nutrients back into the soil. These nutrients become part of a soil food chain that sustains an amazing community of living creatures including beneficial micro-organisms, funghi, earthworms and insects. Together, this community works to aerate and add nutrients to the soil, creating a rich, spongy environment in which plants can thrive, and a natural holding tank for rainwater. 


Plants are a crucial part of rainwater harvesting and should be incorporated into or alongside every water-harvesting earthwork. They bring life to the soil in the form of nutrients that invite micro-organisms and other beneficial life forms. They supply mulch in the form of fallen leaves. They stabilize and shelter the soil, reducing erosion and evaporation. They provide wildlife habitat.

Native plants and plants adapted to the local climate are the best choices, as their roots have been genetically designed to reach down deep into the soil for moisture, requiring very little additional watering once established.

Decreasing Compaction

Healthy, living soil is made up of air, water, minerals, organic matter, micro-organisms, worms, insects and more. In this collaborative environment, healthy plants can thrive, and soil will naturally store more water. When soil is compacted by heavy foot or vehicle traffic, water will tend to sheet off the top surface more, and the balance and health of the soil and plants can be affected. Healthy, living soil will feel springy and spongy versus hard.