Soils for Landscape Development

Soils for Landscape Development provides essential information and a universally applicable method for landscape architects and designers, specification writers, landscape contractors and soil supply companies to ensure quality and fit-for-purpose soils are used in their projects.

Soils for Landscape Development Soil Specifications Simon Leake

Contact SESL Australia to purchase a copy

Soils for Landscape Development

Selection, Specification and Validation
Simon Leake and Elke Haege
ISBN: 9780643109643

Essential reference material for:

  • Landscape Architects 
  • Landscape Designers
  • Architects
  • Project Managers
  • Landscape Contractors and Landscape Soil Suppliers

A strong emphasis is placed on reducing environmental impacts by reuse of on-site soil, promoting appropriate minimal soil intervention, and using recycled products. 


WINNER: Research & Communication Award

Excellence Award: Soils for Landscape Development: Selection, Specification and Validation – Elke Landscape Architect & Consulting Arborist for SESL Australia and CSIRO Publishing


  • The Soil Approach Method promotes consideration of existing site resources and outlines steps to take to minimise costs through soil reuse and to use site soil analysis and edaphic considerations to inform and promote sustainable design.
  • A Site Soil Characterisation and Investigation Specification providing a method by which site-won soils should be characterised and can then be used to form part of the performance specification. Thus the performance specification process is not confined to the use of purchased imported soils.
  • Performance Based Specifications – where a compulsory specification is given outlining the ranges of physical and chemical properties essential for the performance criteria to meet the landscape treatment.
  • A set of Design Drivers to improve the adaptation of landscape to place and hence success rates and provide optimum landscape performance.
  • Verification and Quality Assurance Specification – steps and guidelines to enable clear, standard industry accepted processes over the quality of the product, certification requirements, construction process, and correct supply of specified landscape soils and mulches.
Table of Contents 

Design development process and the soil approach
Understanding soils for landscape developments
Soil design
Guidance to using the soil performance specifications
The performance specifications
Site investigation/analysis
Preparatory soil works
Soils for turf and lawns
Soils for gardens and mass planting
On slab media
Specialist soils
Validation specifications
Appendix A: Technical information, sampling and test methods
Appendix B: Forms and templates
Appendix C: Soil rooting volumes
Glossary of industry terms


About the Authors 

Simon Leake is a soil scientist and Director of SESL Australia. He has over 30 years of experience in the analysis, diagnosis, specification and quality assurance of agricultural soils and landscape soil media and has been lecturing and writing in the soil sciences for amenity and environmental horticulture for over 25 years. Simon has contributed to numerous Australian Standards publications and is regularly invited to lecture on landscape soils for landscape architecture university programs and arboricultural programs.

Elke Haege is an award winning registered landscape architect and consulting arborist who is dedicated to the development of and sustainable connection to natural systems. She is an executive committee member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), is part of AILA’s University Education Advisory Panel and has lectured at the University of New South Wales. During the last 15 years, Elke has worked on projects throughout Australia, China, Denmark, the UK and North America.