Spoil Your Soil: 6 Ways To Improving Soil Quality

Soil stains can be difficult to remove from your clothes and inside your home, but a clump of dirt does wonders for plants. Each clump is a microcosmos containing nutrients, minerals, and living organisms.

Plants, more specifically, rely on soil and its quality to grow and thrive. Soil is the medium that provides support for the plant’s roots, absorbs water, and sends it the nutrients it needs to survive. As long as the soil stays in good condition, no farmer, gardener or landscaper will yearn for anything more.

All plants need quality soil to survive and thrive. Quality soil has two properties: excellent fertility and texture.

Fertility involves the soil’s pH level and a combination of nutrients required for the plant’s survival. Texture, on the other hand, indicates the size of the particles inside the clump of soil, the cohesiveness level, and how well it functions in transferring air and water from the ground to the vegetation.

Know when and how to fix your soil with the help of this guide. An expert on lawn care in Manassas, VA shares some helpful tips on how to make this happen.

Signs to look for

Your plants, field, or garden will provide you with plenty of clues that there is something wrong with the soil. Through the use of soil amendments, you can put back any lost nutrients, enhance the soil’s structure and texture. Consider testing and making adjustments if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Unhealthy plants
  • Pools of water in your yard or garden
  • An increased presence of diseased plants or pests
  • Presence of algae on the surface of the soil
  • Smaller harvest or fewer flowers blooming
  • Cracked, dry or hard soil

Plants get their nutrients from the soil where they are planted. Over time, this affects the quality of your land. By not making any regular amendments, the ground ends up becoming depleted of nutrients.

Autumn is the best time to fix your soil. Doing it during the fall months allows your soil to rest, recuperate and be ready for another planting season once spring comes around. Our experts share a few tips on how to make this happen.

How to fix your soil

1. Feed your soil

Much like any other living organism, your soil needs to feed to stay healthy. To replenish any lost nutrients, you can add layers of organic material to your ground.

One way to replenish the nutrients is by adding commercial fertilizer to your soil. Commercial fertilizer is readily available from garden supply shops. But as convenient as it may seem to buy and add fertilizer from your local garden, hardware, or landscaping store, buying commercial fertilizer can be a costly option.

A more practical, earth-friendly, and sustainable option is to make your own fertilizer. Natural fertilizer can be derived from many sources, including the following:

  • Compost made from scraps of fruits and vegetables
  • Different types of animal manure
  • Mulch
  • Lawn, yard or garden clippings
  • Coir peat or coconut fiber
  • Worm excretions

2. Get the help of worms

Use worms to get your soil back in tip-top shape. Worms are a more effective and cost-efficient way of breaking the ground, as compared to digging it up yourself or using expensive garden tools. One way of making the most of garden worms is through sheet mulching.

Think of sheet mulching as making lasagna with your yard. The technique involves adding different layers of organic material to your soil. With this technique, the organic material replenishes any lost nutrients, while the worms enhance the soil’s texture.

Start by covering the area with a layer of cardboard or newspaper. Apply copious amounts of water to wet the newspaper or cardboard. This layer will kill any existing vegetation, but once it breaks down, it will act as supplementary compost.

Next, add a thin layer of manure or compost. You can also use a combination of green and brown compost before adding a thick layer of dry leaves, straw or mulch, and the worms on top.

This structure provides the ideal structure for worms to move and burrow around. As the worms work their way through the soil, they will break down any clumps. Their castings also provide the dirt with nutrients along the way.

3. Care for the off-season

Autumn is not the only off-season for gardening. In temperate regions that have four seasons, the winter months are not suitable for planting as nothing grows in the cold. When you live in a storm or flood-prone area, the excessive rainwater prevents you from planting efficiently.

The off-planting seasons may not be the best time to plant, but you can use these months to prepare your land, replenish lost nutrients or maintain its condition for the planting season.

There are two things you can do during the off-season if you live in more temperate areas. One is to add a thick layer of mulch. The mulch retains moisture, controls weeds, protects the soil from pests, and from drying out.

Growing cover crops is an alternative method. Cover crops function as a natural fertilizer while keeping the soil in place. Some of the more popular cover crops you can sow during the autumn months include:

  • Clover
  • Buckwheat
  • Winter rye

4. Fix the pH levels

Pesticides, herbicides, and other garden chemicals can alter the pH levels of your garden soil and make it more acidic. You may be surprised to find that even having pine or oak trees, and even sprinkling chopped leaves can raise the acidity levels of your soil. If you want to be sure you can buy a soil test kit from your local hardware store to see the pH or acidity level.

Take the nutrient or pH tests during the late summer or early fall months. This will give you enough time to send the results to a lab and make plans for your garden.

Buy and apply some garden lime if you do find that your garden dirt is on the more acidic end. Garden lime is inexpensive and readily available. Using garden lime during the autumn months can help reduce the acidity levels in your soil.

Soil is the lifeblood of any garden. Follow these tips to keep your dirt in good condition any time of the year. If you need help in treating your soil, contact our expert in landscaping in Manassas, VA today.