Soil quality is the single most important factor when it comes to the success of your garden and landscaping. Healthy soil has the ability to properly store and process water. Poor quality soil, on the other hand, won’t hold water adequately and will make it impossible to maintain plant life. To ensure your garden stays healthy and green, learn how to amend soil for spring planting.
First, get your soil tested. Soil test results will reveal soil pH, phosphorus, lime, potassium, soluble salts and soil texture. However, do keep in mind that a general test will not reveal soil concerns related to insects, diseases or chemicals.
There are a couple of ways you can get your garden or landscaping soil tested. You can buy an inexpensive soil test kit at your local garden store. Or, you can contact your local cooperative extension service office for a free or low-cost soil test.
Second, achieve the proper soil pH by adding organic matter. A high or low soil pH level may result in nutrient deficiency or toxicity. A soil pH value of 7 is neutral, so microbial activity will be greatest and plant roots will absorb nutrients best when the pH is in the range between 5.5 to 7.
Organic matter will help improve soil structure, enable the soil to slowly release beneficial nutrients, and increase beneficial microbial activity. Once existing soil structure or quality is assessed, use the general guidelines below for amending.
• Sandy soil — Add humus or aged manure, peat moss, or sawdust with some extra nitrogen. Heavy, clay-rich soil can also be added to improve the soil.
• Clay soil — Add coarse sand (not beach sand), compost, and peat moss.
• Silt soil — Add coarse sand or gravel and compost, or manure mixed with straw.
Once your soil has been properly amended, you’ll need to prepare it for planting. For more information on how to prepare your soil so that it’s hospitable to plant life, see our post on “Tips for Growing Your Own Vegetable Garden.”
If you are interested in updating your backyard landscaping, call Landscape Creations at (630) 932-8966 and ask us about the professional landscape design services we offer.