Landscape Soils Handbook


This handbook is intended as a quick and ready reference guide with clear step by step ways of how a landscape soil is selected, specified, ordered, supplied and installed.
Inside you’ll find clearly summarised and outlined steps, tips and easy time-and cost-saving tips to getting the right soil installed and certified.
Simon and Elke have created this soils handbook to assist their professions towards not just sustainable, but regenerative landscape environments.

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About the authors

Simon Leake & Elke Haege are winners of the 2015 AIH (Australian Institute of Horticulture) Literature Award and winners of the 2014 AILA NSW (Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture NSW) Research and Development Award) for their publication: Soils for Landscape Development: Selection, Specification and Validation, CSIRO Publishing, 2014.
Elke is a registered landscape architect and consulting arborist. Elke is passionate about the sustainable development of natural systems in urban environments.
Simon is a certified professional soil scientist. Simon’s particular interest lies in urban soil science.
For further in depth information not provided in this handbook, refer to the publication: Leake S & Haege E (2014) Soils for Landscape Development: Selection, Specification and Validation. CSIRO Publishing, Australia. The example soil specification numbering referred to in this handbook matches the codes and numbering found in Leake & Haege (2014).



Part one. A reference for the designer/specifier.

A Quick Reference to Soil choice & specification..

A) Why select and specify soil types?.
B) The example soil specifications list to select from..
C) How to select and specify.

Part two. Soil volume simulator.

A quick reference to estimating soil volumes for new trees in the lansdcape.

A) Where do our calculations come from?
B) Where is the Soil Volume Simulator useful?
C) Advocating for larger trees and designing them into landscape projects
D) How much soil volume do I need to allow for trees in limited spaces?
E) Get the online Soil Volume Simulator (for trees in limited spaces)
F) Selection 6: including the surrounding soil.
G) Selection 7: shared root systems.
H) How big should the tree pit openings be?.
I) What are the Soil Volume Simulator’s smallest and largest volumes?
J) Tree species list – per size.

Part three. Soil Compliance and Installation.

For the construction contractor, supervisor, and soil suppliers.

A) A quick reference: ‘How to: Order, Install Soil Types and have them Certified.
B) Tips for what to do when the incorrect soil type has been installed.
C) Tips on how to take a soil sample.
D) A quick reference to getting site soil tested and AS4419-2003.
E) A quick reference to stockpiling.
F) A quick reference to drainage.
G) A quick reference to mulch.

Part four. Small project specifications.

A) How to specify.
B) How to order soil for small projects.
C) Bare minimum of the properties to compare in the soil test sheet from the soil supplier.
D) What to ask the soil supplier.

Part five. Short form Specs.

For commercial soil producers. A guide for commercial bulk soil mix producers wanting to create off the shelf, PRE-COMPLIANT, ready to purchase landscape soil mixes.

A. Short form specifications.
B. Key testing properties.
C. Example Short Form Specification.
D. Variations to the specification.


Additional Information

A practical guide to Soils for Landscape Development.


Simon Leake and Elke Haege 2017  

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