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Salinity Test Shows Soluble Salts in Soil
The salinity test measures the total soluble salts in the soil. In arid regions, the total amount of soluble salts can accumulate to problematic levels. The following table shows how to interpret a salinity test.

Salt in millimhos per centimeter (mmhos/cm)

4 or above

Severe accumulation of total salts in the soil that may restrict growth of many ornamental plants. Salt level should be reduced by leaching.


Moderate accumulation of salts. Will not restrict the growth of ornamental plants, but may require more frequent irrigation to prevent wilting.

2 or less

Low salt accumulation. Well below the tolerance of all ornamental plants. Leaching is the practice of applying irrigation water in excess of the water-holding capacity of the soil. This excess water must drain downward through the soil, and in so doing, carries the excess soluble salts with it. Three inches of excess water will remove about 50 percent of the soluble salts from the soil. Five inches of excess water will remove approximately 90 percent. When leaching, apply water at a rate that does not exceed the permeability of the subsoil.



Soil Management Practices by Season

Cut grass once a week. Add fertilizers as needed. Prepare flowerbeds planting. Cultivate shallowly to control weeds. Irrigate as needed.

Irrigate as needed. Mulch* flowerbeds to conserve moisture and control weeds. Use shallow cultivation as needed to control weeds. Build compost* pile (if desired) with organic refuse (grass clippings, weeds, vegetable trimmings, etc.)

Add soil amendments if needed. 

Add fertilizer to soil if runoff* is not a problem.

(End of chapter 3)

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