Soil. Water. Life

Soil moisture: why is it important for you and and your garden? Why it is important for LA and its issues with the urban heat island effect and other challenges?

Soil, Water, Life


Here at TreePeople, we sometimes wonder where the tree ends and the soil begins.  Fallen leaves and branches decompose and  create soil, which creates trees, which drop branches and leaves creating more soil.

We also love to think about the tree-water-soil connection. Where does water end and soil or tree begin?

These three elements– soil, water and trees– are so interconnected. It’s been one of our President and Founder, Andy’s, favorite things to share with people around the world.

Understanding this tree-water-soil connection is  critical to develop a deeper relationship with the land around us. Picture this: a gardener “watering” plants– literally.   You’ve seen it– people spraying  plants all over and calling it a day.  Think about watering your plants this way instead: add water to the soil around a plant so it can take up a deep sip through its roots.

Did you know that soil is like a sponge for water? Healthy soil is full of space, so when it rains or when we irrigate our yards, it gets filled with water. Your plants’ roots are able to use this water to grow and thrive!


We only get a so much rainfall here in LA, so our plants are limited in how much they can grow. So when it does rain we want to get as much water into our soil as possible so plants can grow healthy root systems to endure the dry season.  

Concrete, gravel, artificial turf and other impermeable surfaces all act as barriers for water to sink into the ground and to the roots of plants and our street trees. These all magnify the urban heat island effect, which also dries  soil!

There’s good news though! Now there are even rebates for soil moisture sensors in LA County. These sensors help you communicate with your irrigation system and allow watering only when your  soil is dry and needs it most!

As we better understand the relationship between soil, water and life we can see all we can create resilient and vibrant landscapes.
Want to learn more? Join us for one of our free Green City Workshops to see how you can capture the rain, transform your yard and more!

By Jeff Hutchison

Jeffrey Hutchison is TreePeople's Community Education Manager. An artist and educator, Jeffrey works with communities to explore and deepen their connections with the land that surrounds them.