The Art (or Science?) of Good Soil

June 22nd, 2011 by

To have a sturdy building, you’ve got to have a good foundation. The same could be said of plants – having good soil can make or break your garden. Before you can improve the quality of your soil, you first need to know what good soil is. Good soil has neutral pH balance, good structure and texture, and enough organic matter. Good soil is the key to flourishing gardens like this one.

Perennial Strolling Garden

One of the main secrets of good soil is having the right soil structure and texture. Soil can be made of sand, clay, silt, or mixture of two or three of these. Good soil is a good mixture of all three. While finding the exact breakdown of your soil can be difficult, you can improve your soil structure by increasing the amount of organic materials it gets. You can do this by putting a layer of compost on top of the soil in form of mulch and letting its nutrients gently work their own way into your soil. Digging soil up and mixing compost in actually lessens the quality of your soil and encourages weed growth. As the YardSharer who posted this picture agrees, this yard suffers from poor soil structure and texture.

Poor Soil Structure

Another secret to good soil is having the right pH balance. pH is the measurement of acid and alkaline in you soil. Most plants prefer a neutral pH – or a pH of 7 on a scale of 1 to 14. To find out the pH of your soil, you can buy a simple testing kit from your local gardening store. If you pH is too high, that means that it is alkaline. To bring down the pH, add lime to your soil. On the other had, if your pH is low, you can add sulfur to bring it up. However, changing your soil’s pH is a lot of work and can take a lot of time. If you find that your soil’s pH if far from neutral, a nice alternative to changing your pH can be finding plants that are a good match for your soil. After you have been working with your soil for years, it will be rich and balanced. Your yard and garden will be lush and beautiful – the product of all your hard work.