Soil types and preventions

There are four main parts to ensuring the condition of your soil:

  1. Analyzing the Soil
  2. Conditioning the Soil
  3. Fertilizing the Soil
  4. Amend the soil-for deep root structure

Selecting and Usingfor similar information on organic products.DETERMINING NUTRIENT NEEDS
Nutrient needs vary widely depending on soil conditions, previous fertilizer and organic matter additions, and the type of plants grown. The best way to determine which nutrients are needed and in what amounts is to test the soil. A comprehensive soil test (cost: $10.00 to $40.00 per sample) is recommended every two to three years for landscapes and gardens; more frequently if problems arise. See your Extension County Agent for instructions on how to collect soil samples and where to send them for analysis. A soil test report will be accompanied by interpretations and nutrient recommendations (Figure 1). Nitrogen is the most common nutrient needed. Table 1 summarizes nitrogen recommendations for a variety of plants. Refer to your soil test report to determine if nitrogen is needed. Ornamentals such as trees and shrubs, as well as turf, will grow at slower rates if less nitrogen is used than the recommendations listed in Table 1. Slower growth rates may be desirable depending on the goal of the landscaper and the intensity of management. Vegetable nitrogen recommendations are designed to produce optimum yields in a garden setting.




Before you get started planning your landscape or garden, you’ll need to test your soil in order to know how to condition it. You can test the soil yourself with a ph Home Test kit or you can take it to a local lab to be test (usually the city or county in which you live can point you to the right place).

Homeowners recognize the need for timely fertilizer applications to enhance plant growth in landscapes and gardens. However, the number of different products on the market can be overwhelming. Nursery and garden supply stores commonly stock a dozen or more fertilizer products, each with a different concentration of plant nutrients. One fertilizer may be better for a specific situation than another, and different fertilizers need to be applied at different rates to supply the correct amount of plant nutrients. Improper fertilizer application can contribute to surface and ground water pollution, may induce a plant nutrient deficiency or toxicity, or cause salt burn. Properly used, inorganic fertilizers are safe for plants and the environment. The purpose of this guide is to provide general selection and use information for inorganic fertilizers. See the related guide, Organic Fertilizers,

Once you have determined the soil type and composition you can then move on to condition your soil. This part is crucial to ensuring that your trees, plants, and grasses will have a good change of thriving. There are several options to improve the soil and they are entirely up to you. Remember that soil conditioning involves not only adding nutrients, but to manage drainage as well.

Fertilizing your soil requires knowing what kind of fertilizer will best benefit the plants being grown. After you’ve received your soil sample test results this will guide you to buy the correct soil for whatever plants you want to grow – from grasses to trees or fruits to vegetables.

There is a large selection when it comes to soil conditioning options, and they can be economical or pricey, depending on where you are and what you need.

Manure is available just about anywhere. Remember, however, that manure is low in nutrients and high in nitrogen. Leaf mold, on the other hand, is also low in nutrients, but can condition soil very well and will help to start the soil’s nutrient cycles.

Organic matter can and should be added to the soil as a conditioner. Whether it is worm compost or vegetable waste does not matter. Organic matter is rich in microbes and extracts nutrients from the soil that are then passed to the plant through through the root system. Plus, organic matter helps water saturation, in turn, conditioning the soil. The matter soaks in all the water in sandy soils to help protect against drought. On the other hand, organic matter creates pockets in clay soils to improve drainage.

Obviously, every soil is different and will need to be tested and adjusted over time. Some special fertilizers or conditioners may be needed in extreme cases. Just remember these tips for light or sandy soil:

  • maintain good levels of organic matter
  • fertilize
  • water frequently

For clay soils:

  • ensure adequate drainage
  • add organic matter and fertilize as necessary
  • adjust lime levels for proper pH balance

By doing all of these you will have the greenest, healthiest and a deep root structure to ensure maximum potential of life.


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