You’ve done what you can to create a lush landscape — planted the best grass variety, added lots of trees, and watered the greenery regularly. However, your lawn is not as vibrant and alive as you hoped it would be. What if there was another factor that could be preventing you from achieving a lush landscape?

In this article, MowTown Blades discusses soil health — the often overlooked yet fundamental component that impacts the vitality and beauty of your outdoor space. We’ll talk about the various factors that affect soil health and what you can do to make your lawn healthier. Let’s dive in.

What Is Soil Health?

For most of us, our understanding of “healthy soil” is one that is free from pests and disease, but it’s more encompassing than that. Soil health refers to the capacity of soil to sustain plant growth, specifically in the context of lawn maintenance. Healthy soil has a balanced mix of nutrients, chemicals, and other types of matter that allows your vegetation to thrive. Aside from the soil content, healthy soil needs to have physical features like good drainage and the capability to hold the appropriate amount of moisture.

What Makes Your Soil Healthy?

While there are several components that affect soil health, the following are the most essential ones.

Soil pH

The solid pH refers to the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. The ideal soil pH is 7 or neutral, but this is rare. Most soils are slightly more acidic or basic. A healthy soil is one that can stay close to a neutral pH. Ones that are further out of the spectrum can affect nutrient absorption in plants. In addition, soils with balanced pH levels offer more resistance to disease-causing pathogens, leading to healthier plants. A simple PH tester will give you the information you need.

Nutrient Content and Fertility

Another important factor in soil health is its fertility. This refers to the amount of nutrients available in the soil, which is then absorbed by plants through their roots. In general, healthy soil should have balanced levels of elements like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. These nutrients aid in plant growth, production of flowers, and disease management.

Soil Texture

Soil texture refers to the content of clay, sand, and silt in your lawn. Healthy soil has a balanced mix of these components, leading to optimal nutrient absorption and root growth. If there’s too much of one of these components, then this can result in unhealthy soil. For example, sandy soil doesn’t retain moisture and prevents roots from taking hold. On the other hand, clay soil is tough and holds onto too much water.

Moisture Content

While water is an essential element for a lush landscape, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Healthy soil needs to have the right amount of moisture to sustain plants while keeping microbe growth minimal. In general, 20 – 40% moisture levels are ideal. Healthy soil should be able to maintain this range, even after watering.

Natural Organic Matter

Organic matter refers to decaying plant parts and animal waste on your soil. The decomposition process of organic matter releases nutrients into the soil. As plants grow, they will absorb these nutrients to process sunlight, grow new leaves, and produce fruits. Healthy levels of organic matter are thus necessary for a vibrant lawn.

Techniques To Improve Soil Health

Achieving good soil health is not a quick process — it will take some testing and research on your part. Thankfully, we’ve shared tips to help you get started.

1. Perform Soil Testing

The first step is knowing the current state of your soil. You’ll need to perform soil testing to determine nutrient levels, soil composition, pH levels, and the other factors we mentioned. There are DIY kits available. However, you can hire a professional soil tester for more comprehensive results.

2. Apply Fertilizer

The easiest way to correct any deficiency in your lawn is by adding fertilizer. There are products that address specific issues, such as soil that lacks nitrogen or soils that are too acidic. Do your research first to determine the right amount to incorporate.

3. Aerate Your Soil

Foot traffic and the use of heavy mowers can compact your soil. Compacted soil prevents water from entering. Plus, plant roots will have a harder time proliferating. These combined effects prevent nutrient absorption, resulting in unhealthy plants. To prevent these issues, aerating your soil is crucial. This step can be as simple as punching holes into the ground.

4. Add Compost

Pouring compost onto your soil is a sure way to add more organic matter. Plus, compost helps in balancing soil texture. However, keep in mind that too much compost can sometimes increase soil acidity. Apply one or two inches annually to maintain balanced pH levels.

5. Take Advantage of Mulching

Applying mulch creates a protective layer over your soil. The technique helps retain moisture, prevents weed growth, and adds more nutrients as the organic matter decomposes.

You can source mulching from your lawn itself. Wood chips and grass clippings are excellent for this practice. For the latter, you can use mulching mower blades to make the process more efficient.

Wrapping Up: The Basics of Soil Health

Soil health is often overlooked, but it’s a core component of having a lush landscape and vibrant lawn. So, make sure that pH levels, nutrient content, and other factors are at appropriate levels. Follow the steps we shared above for easy soil health management.

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Why is soil health important for plants?

Healthy soil provides many benefits to your lawn’s vegetation. First, plants will be able to access and absorb nutrients. Next, healthy soil prevents the growth of disease-causing microbes. Another important benefit is root growth and anchorage, helping plants stay stable even as they grow tall.

What kind of fertilizer should I use to make my soil healthier?

It depends on the type of nutrient the soil is lacking. For example, if your lawn has low nitrogen levels, then you’ll need to add nitrogen-rich fertilizers to balance the composition. Soil testing is thus important so you can determine the exact issues of your soil.