Soil Amendments

Written by Courtney Salinas
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Soil amendments are anything that improves the physical properties of soil. Amendments can improve aeration as well as help the soil to retain more nutrients. When you amend soil, the goal is to provide better soil for your plants to grow in. Soil amendments are not mulch. Amendments are mixed into the soil thoroughly; mulch is placed on the top.

Deciding on a Soil Amendment

Different amendments have different composition timetables and produce different results. For instance, grass clippings decompose in days to weeks and are good for people looking for immediate results. If you're looking for more long lasting results, compost takes many months to decompose, and peat, bark, and wood chips could take several years.

What kind of amendment you need to get is also based on the condition of your soil. Sandy soils and clay soils can both be hard to work with, and they require different amendments. Sandy soil has plenty of aeration, but no ability to store nutrients, so amendments like compost and aged manure are good because they are well decomposed and capture nutrients.

Clay soil can capture nutrients, but is lacking in aeration and permeability. With clay soils, amendments like peat, wood chips and bark are best because they break up the clay and allow for air and water flow. Loam is a mixture of clay soil and sandy soil. Loam soils tend to be in the middle of these two scenarios and may need a little help from amendments or none at all.

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