Did you know the type of soil on your property can effect your ability to build on or develop the land and, therefore, its overall value. Here’s how to determine what Central TX soil type is on your property.

The soil type on your land or on a piece of land that you’re looking to purchase actually plays a vital role in the value of that land. There are over 1300 different types of soil in Texas due to our very diverse climate landscape and geography. Now, soil is classified by the size, the particles and the mineral and nutrients that make up that soil. In Texas, it’s referred to as 21 different land resource areas for the different soil contents. Specifically for this video, we’re going to focus on Travis County and Central Texas.

There are two zones in Travis County, one called the Edwards Plateau and the other being the Blackland Prairie. So, the Edwards Plateau is typically west of I-35 and these are deep, dark, alkaline Clays which are very stony and gravelly with a lot of limestone underneath. This can present a challenge if you’re digging a foundation for a home, for example or if you’re developing a road.

Then you have what’s called blackland prairie and this is typically east of I-35. There is a lot of flat farmland and this clay is…they’re commonly called cracking clays and the reason for this is because they have a high shrink and swell factor, meaning they expand rapidly when wet and then they retract when dry. This can cause serious issues for foundations. For example, just Northeast of Austin in the Elgin and Manor Area, there are a lot of homes that have significant foundation issues due to the high shrink swell factor of the blackland prairie clay.

So, how do you protect yourself as a home buyer or as an investor looking to buy land. If you’re a home buyer, I would definitely recommend you consult with either someone that specializes in soils or an agent broker that you’re working with. It is their fiduciary duty to do what’s in your best interest. So, if they don’t understand about the soil content, then they need to educate themselves. But, you as the homeowner should do research on your own. There’s actually treatment that you can inject into the soil as well to help mitigate the shrink swell factor with blackland prairie clay. I would just recommend that you make sure that there aren’t any toxic chemicals that are being injected into the ground. But, that is one strategy to mitigate your foundation or the soils from expanding and contracting so much.

If you’re buying a raw piece of land, it’s recommended you do what’s called a geotech analysis. We’ll do a video on this in the future, but a geotech analysis actually takes boring samples of the soil sends them to a lab to be tested and then you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with. So, just educate yourself, there are a lot of online resources as well. You can look on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website in their natural resource section and it’ll show you the soil content of your land. There are several mapping softwares, such as LandGlide or mapright, which is what we use. It’ll show you the soil content. But, again, it’s always best just to speak with an expert or even do a geotech analysis.

Feel free to reach out to us with questions or other topics you’d like to see covered.

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