What Are Soil Amendments?
Soil amendments are products added to the soil to improve soil’s physical, chemical, or biological properties. Some of these properties that amendments are used for include increasing soil fertility or water-holding capacity and decreasing compaction or erosion. Soil amendment differs from fertilizer by modifying the condition of the soil itself, whereas fertilizer adds nutrients to the soil.
There are also 2 general categories that soil amendments fall under: organic and inorganic.
Organic soil amendments are composed of materials that were previously living matter. In contrast, inorganic amendments are made of mined or artificially created materials.
Some organic materials used in soil amendments include:
- Wood chips
- Grass clippings
A few examples of inorganic materials include:
- Rock powders
When Should Soil Amendment Be Used?
One reason to use soil amendments is to alter the soil’s pH. The soil’s pH level needs to be within a specific range to give plants adequate access to nutrients. For example, some plants prefer more acidic soil, while others thrive in more alkaline soil. You will need to have a plant health care specialist test your soil to determine its current pH and what treatment is required to help your plants’ health.
Regarding the time of year, soil amendments can be applied at any time, but the ideal times are early spring or late fall. This is because soil amendments are more easily incorporated when the soil is bare and dry. If you apply them in the spring, they will be more effective at helping your plants grow because you will be fertilizing your plants and improving the soil. When soil amendments are applied in the fall, they will have time over winter to break down and become part of the soil before you plant again in spring. The types of soil amendments used also differ depending on the season.
Spring Soil Amendment
During spring, we recommend a potassium-only fertilizer with the necessary nutrients. This helps improve the plant’s resistance to stress factors such as disease pressure, extreme temperature fluctuations, and drought conditions. In addition, this systemic nutrient formulation stimulates health and vigor without triggering excess physical growth.
Fall Soil Amendment
During the fall, plants absorb and store nutrients for the initial spring growth period. As a result, supplying the nutrients often lacking in landscape soils is vital. We fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer to ensure the availability of essential macro and micronutrients. This amendment also gives plants and trees the sustenance necessary for healthy growth and resistance to insects, disease, and harsh environmental conditions.
Benefits of Soil Amendment
One of the benefits is restoring your soil’s pH balance. If the pH balance of the soil is too high or low, certain nutrients (potassium, nitrogen, and other elements) become more difficult or less available for plants to absorb, which can negatively impact the health of the plants. As a result, plant health care experts will use soil amendments to modify the soil’s pH balance.
Some of the other benefits of soil amendments include the following:
- Organic materials in soil amendments help encourage plant growth.
- Soil amendments help improve aeration, prevent soil compaction, allow air to flow more freely, and improve the soil’s drainage.
- Organic soil amendments can improve certain soils by improving the soil’s ability to store nutrients and water.
Contact Burkholder PHC for Soil Care Services
If you want to keep your plants and trees healthy with soil amendments, contact Burkholder PHC. We offer many plant health care services in addition to soil care, such as plant growth regulators, plant pest control, and more. In addition, our team of specialists has years of experience maintaining the health and vibrancy of landscapes in the Main Line area. For more information about our services, request a free consultation today.