Problems with Soil and How to Fix Them

The lifeblood of any garden is the soil but not every backyard comes with great soil.  In fact you will probably have to work with your soil to get optimal conditions for growing your plants and flowers.  The soil has to have the right pH levels to allow your plants to grow and stay healthy.  Here are some of the more common problems with soil and how to fix them so you have a healthy beautiful garden.

Compacted Soil

Compacted soil can happen for a bunch of reasons but most commonly is because of pressure.  Compacted soil is a problem because it stops water from getting to the roots of your plants, and plant roots need water to live.  To get rid of the compacted soil you can first try aerating the soil more often to help loosen it.  However if that doesn’t work it is going to be time to dig.  Ripping up the soil and replacing with healthy top soil will allow your plants to grow.  But if your soil became compacted because of constant foot traffic you will also have to do something about that.

Clay

Too much clay in your soil presents the same problem as compacted soil it prevents water from getting to the roots of your plants.  Again your plants aren’t getting enough water and that’s a problem.  Clay soil is a much harder problem to fix and it can take years.  You effectively have to create new top soil for your plants to grow.  Take off the top six inches of clay and then you are going to want to fill the area in with compost.  That will help to create top soil and then you can plant on top of that.

Hard Soil

Hard soil can be very difficult to work with if you can’t dig into the soil it makes it almost impossible to plant anything.  It is also very hard for roots to take hold.  The soil may be hard because it is extremely dry and you may have to irrigate the soil.  This can take time and effort to make the soil good enough to start planting.

Too Many Rocks

You can work with rocky soil although it is anything but easy.  Rocky soil is okay for shrubs or trees but if you want to plants flowers or vegetables then you need to try something else.  One option is to add top soil to your garden and you will have to make sure there is at least six inches of top soil.  If that isn’t an option then you may want to use raised beds instead.

Trimming Your Trees and Shrubs

Most homeowners, even the ones who are avid gardeners tend to ignore their trees and shrubs until there is a problem.  Trimming your trees and shrubs is part of garden maintenance and it helps to keep your plants healthy.  When you trim your trees regularly you can shape them and it helps to keep away diseases that can harm your trees.

Trimming your trees not only makes them look good and maintains their health but it will also keep away the dead branches.  If you have fruit trees on your property then trimming can help them develop and give you a better yield.  Trimming your trees can help keep the branches from getting too long and interfering with things like power lines on yours or your neighbor’s property. When you don’t prune the trees branches can break and infection can happen.

If you aren’t comfortable trimming the trees yourself or they are too big for you to handle then you may want to bring an arborist to give you a hand.

When to Trim Your Trees

When you trim your trees will depend on the species of trees you may have to check with an expert on the species of trees and how to look after them but here are a few rules of thumb

  1. Some species of trees need to be pruned in the spring, this helps plants to grow quickly throughout the growing season, this includes most fruit trees.
  2. Some trees are better pruned in winter time although be careful or you can end up killing your trees, these types of trees include evergreen trees along with oak and maple.
  3. Ask an arborist which branches should be pruned to maintain the trees thickness. You don’t want trees that have too many branches on one side while not enough on the other.
  4. Make sure to trim back trees that are too near power lines or your home

Broken and Damaged Trees

Broken and damaged trees should be removed right away before they start to infect other trees or get knocked over during a storm and damage your property.  There is a method to cutting down trees and pros know how to do it with minimal impact on the rest of your garden.  If you have sick trees then you might consider calling in a tree surgeon first to see if you can save it.

Trees are an important part of your garden, don’t neglect them.

Organic Gardening

With more and more people becoming aware of the chemicals in our food and the impact on the environment it is not surprising to see a shift towards organic gardening.  Whether you are new to gardening or you already have a green thumb it’s always good to connect with other organic gardeners to share tips.  The idea behind organic gardening is to grow your plants naturally with no chemical fertilizers. 

Getting the Basics Right

Organic gardening is growing your plants without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides but that doesn’t mean that you garden has to be overgrown with critters looking to feast on your budding plants.  There are natural methods you can use to keep bugs and animals away from your garden.  Compost is key to having rich soil and most organic gardeners make their own or buy organic compost from a garden supply store.  When it comes to planting seeds you are going to need seeds that are certified organic and not genetically modified.  Organic gardening doesn’t need to take up your entire backyard either it is the method that is more important than the size of your garden.  You can have a couple of pots growing herbs on a windowsill or an entire orchard of fruit trees.

Why Choose Organic

Most people opt for organic gardening because of the impact on the environment.  In addition they don’t want harsh chemicals on their food or around their families.  If you are growing vegetables in your garden then you can feel comfortable knowing they weren’t treated with toxic chemicals or genetically modified.  There are also countless studies done showing that both the taste and nutrient content of organically grown produce is better, but that is something that you will have to taste for yourself.

Making Your Garden Grow

Your organic garden is a project and every project needs a plan.  You will need to decide what you plan to grow, what kind of soil to use and where everything is going to grow.  Don’t let the amount of space you have hinder what you want to plant, whether you want flowers or vegetables you can get creative with the space you have.  You can create a vertical garden or use raised beds.  You will also need to understand which plants grow best in which season and which plants should be planted together.

Organic gardening can be a bit more work than traditional gardening, but it is well worth it in the end.  Start small with a couple of plants and pretty soon you will see why so many gardeners choose organic gardening.

Making Your Own Compost

If you want rich and healthy soil to grow your plants, flowers and vegetables then you are going to need to add compost.  Compost is a mix of decayed plant material that is full of all kinds of nutrients that your plants need.  You can buy compost at your local garden center but that can be kind of pricey.  Making your own compost is easier than you think and it keeps your food waste out of landfills too.  Here is how to make your own compost.

Getting a Compost Bin

If you want to make your own compost then you are going to need a compost bin.  There are a couple of different types you can buy but ideally you want one that is simple to operate and durable, you don’t want to have to clean up after a broken compost bin!  Find a corner of your yard where you can set it up where it won’t get in the way.  Here is a look at the different types of compost bins and how they work.

Adding the Ingredients

Once you have your bin in the right spot in your yard now it is time to start adding the ingredients you will need to make rich compost.  The first thing you need to put in is some soil from your garden.  Soil has worms and the right types of bacteria to break down the plant matter that you will add to it later.  The next thing you want to throw in is some plant material from your garden start with some grass clippings from when you mowed and follow it up with some leaves.

Letting it Decompose

Your composter should be placed in the sun where it can get warm, this will help speed along the process and help your plants to decay faster.  Once you have the perfect mixture of your ingredients along with heat you will end up with some nutrient rich compost.  You can put waste from your kitchen into your composter but not everything can go in.  Only add plant materials, so left over vegetables or fruit works fine.  Coffee grounds or tea grounds are also great for your compost and egg shells and some much needed calcium to the soil.  Never ever add meat.

Don’t let your compost dry out and you should rotate it fairly regularly to keep it healthy.  Also your composter shouldn’t actually smell bad, if it does then something is wrong.  It make take a couple of tries to get great compost but it will be worth it in the end.