Soil and Soil Amendments Buying Guide

Contents[Hide]

Planting a garden?  Of course you will want give your plants ,flowers , and herbs  the best care by using soil  and soil amendments .  The goal is to provide a better environment for roots, and using these components will improve the soil's physical properties, such as water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure.  The healthier the roots, the better the final product!  We are here to help you learn more about your soil so that you can create the ideal conditions for your garden. 

Soils

  • Soil Testing:  It's important to know your soil before you start planting.  There are many ways to test the soil to determine its type.  
    • pH:  The pH balance of your soil can be tested by purchasing a kit .  The solution turns yellow-orange for acid soil, green for neutral and dark green for alkaline.
      • Most plants prefer a pH balance of about 6.5 or 7, the point where nutrients are most easily available.
      • Different species of plants prefer different types of soil.  Be sure to research!
  • Soil Type:  The soil type is determined by its relative quantities of organic matte, rock, and mineral particles.
    • An easy way to determine your soil type is to pick up some damp soil and rub it between your fingers. 
      • Clay soil  will be sticky and easy to roll into a ball.
      • Sandy soil  will feel gritty and won't hold together at all.
      • Silty soil  will feel silky and won't hold together in a ball the way that clay will, but it can still be rolled.
      • Loamy soil  is brown and crumbly in texture, with a lot of organic matter present in it.  
      • Chalky soil  is light and doesn't hold water well.  You will often find chunks of chalk or flint in it, and it is always alkaline.
      • Peat soil  is almost black to look at and spongy to touch.  It will hold a lot of water.
  • Drainage: If your garden soil  floods or puddles on the surface, you need to start looking at solutions. Improving the soil structure by digging  can often solve drainage problems and adding organic matter  or sand  will also help. If, after improving the soil structure, it is still badly drained then you need to consider a land drainage scheme .
  • Fixing It:  The key to fixing up the consistency of the soil is to add a lot of organic matter .  One of the best ways of doing this is to dig spent mushroom compost  into the soil.  Another favourite of garden experts is a soil activator  called 6X  which can be added to tremendously improve your soil quality.  (Tip: Never add sand to clay soil, as it will make a concrete mixture rather than a soil solution!) 

Soil Amendments

Know that soil amendments  are components that are thoroughly mixed into the soil to improve its quality.  They are different from mulches, as mulch  is placed on top of the soil.  

  • Organic:  Organic soil amendments  are formed from something that was once alive.  Organic amendments increase the organic matter content of the soil and offers many benefits. Organic matter improves soil aeration, water infiltration, and both water and nutrient-holding capacity. Many organic amendments contain plant nutrients and act as organic fertilisers . Organic matter also is an important energy source for bacteria, fungi and earthworms that live in the soil. 
  • Longevity:  The amount that you choose to apply into your garden will strongly depend upon your goals. 
    • If you are trying to improve soil's physical properties quickly, then consider an amendment that decomposes rapidly, such as organic grass clippings or manures.
    • If you are looking for long-lasting improvement to your soil, choose an amendment that decomposes slowly; composts are your best bet.
    • If you want a quick improvement that lasts a long time, choose a combination of amendments.  A combination of wod chips and peat will take years to decompose.

Related Guides 

See some of our other guides to help you improve your garden's quality and appearance.

Outdoor and Gardens

Gardening Tips

Garden Tools

Mulch

Related Searches

acidic soil agriculture soil alkaline soil amend clay soil artificial plant artificial plants bark clay soil clay soil amendment compost compost soil earthworms exotic plants expanded clay pebbles expanded perlite fertilizer garden garden design garden gypsum garden manure garden plant garden plants garden soil garden tools gardening landscaping gardening soil greenhouse soil greenhouses greensand grodan rockwool gypsum soil horticultural charcoal horticultural perlite horticultural vermiculite humus soil hydrangea hydroponic growing mediums indoor plants kelp meal landscape design landscapers landscaping lawn lawn fertilizer lawn sprinklers lawn turf lime soil loam soil mail order plants manure mulch office plants orchid potting mix organic compost organic fertilizer organic potting mix organic soil organic soil amendment organic soil amendments peat soil perennial plants perlite plant soil planting soil plants plants soil potting mix potting mixes potting soil pro mix bx pro mix potting pro mix potting soil professional potting mix sand & gravel soil soil acidity soil amendment soil amendments soil analysis soil and soil amendments soil classification soil compaction soil composition soil conditioner soil conditioners soil content soil drainage soil fertility soil formation soil horizon soil improvement soil less potting mix soil microbes soil modification soil moist soil organic matter soil ph soil preparation soil profile soil properties soil stabilisation soil stabilizer soil stabilizing soil structure soil taxonomy soil test kit soil test kits soil tester soil testing soil testing kit soil testing kits soil texture soil type soil types soiless mix soiless potting mix soilless mix soilless potting mix spreader mat top soil topsoil topsoil delivery tree care tropical plants usda soil vermiculite vermiculite mix worm castings