Soil amendments improve the physical nature of soil. They reduce compaction, help in aerating the soil to allow water and nutrients to more easily move through it and reach plant roots. Some soil amendments can also add nutrients to the soil and help retain moisture.
You will encounter three primary types of soil, determined by the amount of clay, silt or sand particles present.
- Clay soil contains a high percentage of clay - particles are small and cling together making it susceptible to compaction so it is difficult for the moisture and nutrients to reach plant roots and for root penetration.
- Sandy soil is composed of larger, coarser particles - draining quickly it isn't effective at holding moisture and nutrients.
- Loam has a good balance of clay, silt, sand and organic material - making it the best type of soil for lawns and gardening. Loam retains adequate moisture and nutrients.
Because of modern construction processes, the soil in your landscape will likely not be ideal initially. Soil amendments can help you improve it, allowing your plants and lawns to thrive. Common organic soil amendments may include:
- Sphagnum peat moss helps lighten clay soil and provides aeration and mass to sandy soil. This helps slow the leaching of nutrients.
- Humus consists of decayed organic matter. It improves fertility and aeration and helps soil hold moisture.
- Composted manure is an odorless farm by-product. Manure enriches the soil improving aeration and moisture retention.
- Mushroom compost is a mixture of straw, peat moss and other organic components. The mixture is used commercially for one round of growing and then packaged as an amendment for the garden.
- Topsoil is commercially produced compost that's usually partially decomposed. It can be used in the yard or mixed with other products.
The qualities of your soil are best determined by a soil test. Testing, contrary to the oppinion of some, is not a "D I Y project". Quality test results indicate what nutrients your soil needs as well as the soil pH level and soil type, allowing us to adjust for your lawn and plants which may require different components.