According to Bill Kostik, owner of San Luis Soils & Sod Farm, 101 is more than just a U.S. highway; it is a dividing line between the county’s two predominate soil types.
“Everything west of the freeway in general is very sandy, everything east is clay,” he explained.
To make the best of both local soil types, Kostik creates specialty soil and amendment mixes. His planter mix for sandy soil contains clay and silt to increase the soil’s water-holding capacity, add trace elements, and keep water soluble nitrogen from leaching away.
The planter mix for clay soil contains sand to enhance drainage and make the soil easier to work with. According to Kostik, it turns heavy clay into a rich, soft loam.
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He also touts his raised bed mix as unusual. Most raised bed mixes turn to clay once the organic materials are depleted, he said. To avoid this, he balances it with a judicious measure of sand.
“Even when you don’t replenish the organics, it always turns back into loam. It stays friable, not compact,” he said.
Kostik cautions against using bagged soil mixes that he said are almost strictly organic material. This is done to keep the material lighter and easier to transport.
“Once it’s depleted, it’s all gone,” he said. “When you create loam soil, it goes on forever.”
Other amendment mixes offered by San Luis Soils & Sod Farm include container mixes and lawn top dressing. There is even an acid mix for the “aristocrats of the garden,” such as azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, and daphnes. These showy plants grow best in well-drained, acidic soil with a high organic content.
Of course, Kostik still grows sod on the 20-acre Los Osos farm that he has operated for 31 years. As water-conscious gardening continues to advance, lawns have changed, but not disappeared.
“The big lawns are gone, but people still want small lawns where kids go out and play,” he said.
The farm grows five different types of sod.
Cuesta Highland is a turf-type tall fescue dwarf, and Bonsai 3000 is a double dwarf fescue. Cuesta Highland was specially developed for the North County, because its deep root system makes it less vulnerable to heat stress. Both fescues take more abuse than other types of grass, so they are good for high-traffic areas. Obispo Green is a blue rye mix. It is an older-style grass that is softer and easier on the feet, so a good choice for young kids and backyard sports. The farm also grows a no-mow fine fescue and a shady mix for as little as one to two hours of direct sun, or six to eight hours of filtered sunlight.
San Luis Soil & Sod Farm offers bulk landscape products such as rock, bark, flagstone and boulders to complete the look of your garden. It is located at 2130 Blue Heron View in Los Osos, 528-SOIL (7645).