Builders, developers, and landscapers

are adopting practices that preserve and improve the soil on building sites, grow healthier landscapes, and protect waterways. Local governments are beginning to require these practices.

5 Steps to Building Soil

Best management practices (BMPs) during construction:
  1. Retain and protect native topsoil & vegetation where practical
  2. Restore disturbed soils, to restore healthy soil functions, by:
    • stockpiling & reusing good quality site soil, or
    • tilling 2-3" of compost into poor site soils, or
    • bringing in 8" of compost- amended topsoil
  3. Loosen compacted subsoil, if needed, by ripping to 12" depth
  4. Mulch landscape beds after planting
  5. Protect restored soils from erosion or re-compaction by heavy equipment

Tools for builders

View slide show (PDF 5MB) Why, how-to tips, and successful projects, or brochure

Watch video (on King County's website)

Building Soil Manual
the builder's guide:
summary (PDF) with links to compost calculator, suppliers, specs, and more
full Building Soil Manual (PDF, 4MB)

Soil BMP requirements in state and local codes, or text of State BMP (PDF)

Landscaping guide (PDF) Design, building, and maintenance tips for professionals

Managing Stormwater Onsite (PDF) Soil BMPs as part of the "Low Impact Development" toolbox

When to amend? (PDF) Construction sequencing for soil protection and restoration

Erosion control with compost (PDF) Meet your TESC requirements, build healthy soil, work faster, and save money.

Homebuyer factsheet (PDF) Print and use to promote your healthy soil and landscape practices to your customers. It sells!

Learn MoreBackground, science, specs and resources for designers, and related information are available on our partner website:

Why build healthy soil?

Washington State's stormwater permits require these soil BMPs.  That requirement is taking effect locally as towns and counties around Western Washington update their stormwater codes (as required by law). Some jurisdictions already require the soil BMPs – all will soon.

The good news is, it's easy, and customers want it.  New home buyers say they are happy to pay more for a healthy, easy to care for landscape – and that starts with the soil.


Successful Projects

Learn more about these projects >
preserving vegetation, stockpiling topsoil
amending existing soil with compost
placing compost amended topsoil
Healthy soil makes healthy landscapes, for satisfied customers!