The secret to thriving plants and lawns is healthy soil. To be more specific, healthy soil can enhance the quality of crops and can create a natural nutrient cycle in the environment. It can also reduce pest and infestation. Healthy soil has also increased water holding capacity, which means you get to save more water and reduce the chances of erosion. With healthy soil, you also get to maximize the efficiency of chemical fertilizers, which reduces production costs.
These are just some of the benefits of having healthy soil. That is why it is important to improve the quality of soil help keep care of our lawn or garden.
How to determine if soil is healthy or needs improvement
- First, you need to know that there are different types of soil. Thus, there are different soil strategies that you need to do for specific soil.
- Second, soil health depends on certain properties like water infiltration and holding capacity, depth, density, texture, among others.
How to identify soil type
There are three basic soil types. These are clay, loamy, and sandy. Clay and sandy soils are difficult for irrigation, whilst loamy soil is the most ideal among the three.
Loamy soil is considered the best when it comes to gardening and agricultural since it is able to retain nutrients. It is also easy to work in any kind of moisture conditions.
A simple method that you can try to find out if your soil is clay, loamy, or sandy is by picking up some marble-sized moist soil. Roll it between your fingers. Try to create a ball shape from it.
If you are successful in creating a marble-sized ball from the soil, then you have a clay soil.
If the soil keeps falling apart as you try to roll it on your fingers, then you have sandy soil.
Lastly, if the soil was formed into a ball, but ended up falling apart once you apply pressure, then it is loamy soil.
Once you know the kind of soil you have, it is easy to apply soil techniques to improve it. So here are some ways on how to improve the soil in your garden based on the soil type.
1. Adding organic matter into the soil
If you have sandy soil that easily falls apart after being squeezed, what you need to focus on is to improve the structure of the soil. One of the best methods to do this is by adding some organic matter into the soil. This will enhance its nutritional value.
However, if you have clay soil, which is easy to mold and can turn really hard during dry summer, using organic matter to improve it will take a lot of work. You need patience when it comes to adding organic matter into clay soil. But once you are successful with this method, you will be able to improve the structure of your clay soil. An improved clay soil structure can provide better drainage. It will also have a lot of nutrients that your plants will love.
Poor loamy soil can also be improved using this method. However, the fertility of your loamy soil will depend on the quantity of organic matter that you will use.
2. Adding nutrients your plants need
There are three key nutrients that plants need and that you should incorporate into your soil if it’s lacking. These three are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is necessary for leaf and stem growth. Phosphorus is for the roots, fruit, and seed. Potassium is for disease resistance and overall health of your plants.
If you have young plants, it is best to include phosphorus in your soil since it will focus on the growth of leaves. On the other hand, for mature plants, less phosphorus is needed and more on the other nutrients.
Composting is recycling organic waste. Using composting on soil can reduce the bulk of organic material in the soil. It also stabilizes volatile and soluble nutrients. Composting also helps speed up the formation of soil humus.
Regular application of compost is usually one-quarter inch per season. This can result in slow release of nutrients on soil, but it can improve your soil’s water retention which is best for clay and sandy soils. It also helps suppress diseases.
There are two kinds of composting, sheet composting and vermicomposting. Sheet composting is building piles in bins with alternate layers of fresh high nitrogen greens, like grass, and browns, like dry leaves.
The second one is vermicomposting. It is composting that uses earthworms to convert manures, food wastes, green crop residues, etc., into nutrient-dense materials.
4. Cover crops
Cover crops is one of the easiest ways to improve the soil and does not require much work. With it, you can improve soil drainage, aeration, and smooth out weeds.
For this method, all you have to do is cover your garden or lawn area with the seeds you want to use as your cover crop. After that, just wait and let the seeds do some magic on your soil. Once done, you can use a scythe to cut off the greens that appeared in the soil.
5. Using hay or straw
If you are looking for a way to improve loamy soil, mulching hay or straw is a good method. You can purchase fresh hay and straw from the market. But using old bales is a better choice. It is also cheaper.
In using hay or straw, just mulch it in your garden. This will not only help with watering and taking out weeds, but also can add nutrients to your loamy soil.
These are just some interesting strategies and methods you can use if you are looking for ways on how to improve the quality and health of your soil. Remember, healthy soil produces healthy plants. So, the key to a good lawn and garden is keeping the soil in tip-top shape. Before gardening or tending to the looks of your lawn, focus first on the soil and then you can start adding plants, crops, or other elements your choice.