Landscape soil needs a lot of preparation and attention. Oftentimes, when a home or commercial property is built, it would wreak havoc on the soil and even strip the topsoil. It is important to condition to soil to prepare it for healthy vegetative growth. This may take a lot of work but it could also be rewarding once it’s done.
It Won’t Hold Water for the Roots
Landscape soil that is not conditioned is generally made up of clay, rocks and sand. None of those mentioned has the capability to hold water. It’s also going to be too compact on the top preventing the water to sink deep down to support healthy root growth. Oftentimes, water will just slip right through. Keep in mind that water also contains the plant nutrients, and with no organic matter in the soil to work as sponges the plant nutrients have nowhere to be stored.
Step 1: Break it Up
The first stage of the process is to break up the rough unconditioned landscape soil, which can be a difficult or easy job depending on how much sand and rock it contains. If it contains very little sand or rock it’s probably composed of clay and dry clay which will be hard to dig in. Rock can make matters even worse, but sand makes digging easy particularly if the landscape soil you have is primarily sand.
Step 2: Analyze Your Landscape Soil
After you’ve dug deep down to break up the soil you should have a pretty good idea of what it’s composed of. If it’s loaded of rocks then you should at least remove some of it.
You May Need to Bring in a Sifter
You need to get the landscape soil broken up as finely as possible and also remove as many of the larger rocks because they hold no water or air and they don’t support root growth. One option that you have is to bring in a large soil sifter to make the job easier and more efficient. You can check out your local rental shop for this kind of equipment.
Next it’s Time to Mix in Some Conditioners
After the rough landscape soil is broken up and analyzed, the next step is to work in high-quality cellular soil conditioners and sand. ‘Cellular’ means that the soil conditioners have intact cells that function as tiny little pockets to store air, water and nutrients. Peat moss for example is cellular as well as redwood shavings.
Soak Your Landscaping Soil Conditioners First
For some reason soil conditioners like peat moss and redwood shavings work into landscape soil a whole lot easier and better after they’ve been soaked in water. You can do a test run to see the difference that it makes. You can use a hose to soak your conditioners well.
Spread them Out and Work them in Deep
Working conditioners into landscaping soil is a difficult job particularly if you have a large area to cover. One option that you may want to take is to rent a tiller from your local rental yard. A tiller is designed just for this type of job. Make sure that you incorporate the conditioners deep down into the landscape to make it more effective and easier to work with.
A Few Words on Soil pH
Everything around us has pH number and that even includes water. Water has a pH number of seven which is neutral. A pH number indicates how much acid is contained in a solution. Landscape soil also contains a certain level of acids. Coincidentally all plants have a level of acid that they prefer to grow in, with some types of plants preferring soil that is more acidic than others.
It’s no small matter either, because if there’s too much acid in the soil it can directly affect the growth of the plants. Learning about landscape soil pH and how to adjust it is important if you want optimal results from your project.
Buy and learn how to use a soil test kit. You can find soil test kits at your local nursery. If they don’t have them there, you could find one online. You can easily determine the pH of your landscape soil by the color that the solution turns to after putting a sample in a small mixing bottle. You need to find out what the preferred pH level is for the plants that you intend on planting in your landscape soil.
To adjust the pH level of your landscape soil, it’s a simple matter of adding either common lawn lime, hydrated lime or adding a chemical fertilizer. Practice on small batches first, so you can gain a feel of how much or how little of your fertilizer or lime to add. After which you can adjust the amount accordingly.