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Soil Amendments | How to Improve Soil Quality of Your Garden

Soil Amendment How to Improve Soil Quality of Your Garden

Soil amendments could help improve one’s landscape. They generally use various types of matter, such as lime and compost. It could also provide multiple benefits to the soil, making it contributory to landscaping.

If you’re looking for more ways to further understand solid amendments and how to improve soil quality of your garden, here’s an article for you.


The soil is essential for plants to thrive. If the soil is dry and has poor nutrients, plants would typically wither or die. If the soil is healthy, it could provide all the necessities for a plant to grow, bear flowers and fruits, or even offer shade when developed into a tree.  

If you want to develop your landscape, you may face trouble when your soil has poor quality. Generally, this is caused by pollution and over-farming.

There are other ways that affect overfertilization and flooding as these leach out the soil’s nutrients, leading to poor soil quality. When this happens, plants become affected.  

How Soil Amendments Can Benefit Your Landscape

Benefits of Soil Amendments

In most cases, they fail to bear trees. Trees are more likely to be uprooted when adverse weather affects them. Crops may still grow but won’t thrive. To regain the lost quality of soil, many farmers apply various methods.

One of these is the application of soil management and amendments. Here are 4 benefits of soil amendments to your garden. 

Soil Amendments Help In Plant Growth 

Garden soil amendments can improve the garden soil, especially with organic matter. This way, garden soil gains more nutrients that plants need to grow properly. 

If your garden soil is compact, hard, and clayey, you may consider adding soil amendments to make it more suitable for plants. You may use inexpensive organic matter for this purpose.

Here’s a list of common organic waste that you could use for organic soil amendments: 

  • Manure: It should be composted first before application and appropriately mixed with soil to prevent the burning of plants because of its ammonia deposits 
  • Compost: It’s made of various biodegradable waste, including kitchen scraps, dried leaves, and humus. (Here's our review on the best compost tumbler for 2023)
  • Peat Moss: This needs to be wet before application, ideal for loosening compact soil 
  • Cover Crops: Legumes grown to add nitrogen and loosen the hard soil 
  • Lime: It adds acidity to the soil and should also be mixed to avoid burning the plants
  • Sand: Helps in drainage and in aeration and has a low capacity for holding water 
  • Potash: A salt-based mineral that provides potassium   

Here is our step by step guide on how to make potash

Each soil has its own needs, so gardeners must assess any soil amendment. Suppose you’re in Kansas City and other nearby cities and still undecided what to apply in your soil. In that case, you may contact stores that offer organic recycling for different compost-amended products.

Improves Stability for Plants 

Benefits of Soil Amendments

Since soil amendments make the soil porous and permeable, the ground becomes less compact. Because of this, the rapid exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen—the so-called aeration—takes place.

In the same manner, roots could freely move up to their desired depths, improving the stability of the plants. Furthermore, with better root and pore spaces, water would have better storage and flow.

This way, the nutrients stay longer in the soil and become well-disseminated. This state helps in the thriving of the plants, improving the garden and landscape.

Porous and Permeable Soil Improves Landscaping 

In layman’s terms, applying the best soil amendments make the soil more ‘breathable’ for the roots. In this scenario, the dirt loosens because of the presence of organic matter.

Typically, it replaces rocks and sediments that are harder to get through for the roots. With absorbent and porous soil, landscapers could easily plant and transplant flowers and shrubs.

In addition, because of these attributes, the plants in the yard are likely to be healthy.  

Soil Amendments Adjusts the Soil pH 

Soil Amendments Adjusts The Soil pH

Soil pH refers to the level of alkalinity and acidity of the soil. It’s vital in landscaping as most plants don’t grow well in soil with high alkaline and acid levels. Soil amendments solve this issue.

If you’re planning to use solid amendments for adjusting acidity and alkaline levels, be reminded that you should test the soil first. Soil pH will serve as the basis for whether you’ll need sulfur or lime to correct the soil pH level.

Furthermore, be reminded that if your garden has fully grown plants, you’d need to apply the amendments in installments. Applying in volume may give more harm than benefits to your plants. 

Generally, if your garden is new, you may use more than 5 pounds of sulfur or lime. You just need to mix the amendments and the soil properly with a shovel for better distribution of the organic matter.

For best soil acidity and alkaline levels, you may conduct a soil test every two years and make the proper amendments accordingly. 

What to Consider in Choosing Soil Amendments

In choosing the type of soil amendment that you’d use; you need to think of the soil’s current condition. Is the soil dry? Are there organisms, such as maggots, present in the soil? Is it compact? Do a lot of plants grow there?

Furthermore, here are some of the points to consider to make the most of the soil: 

  • soil texture 
  • types of plants growing in the garden 
  • acidity and alkaline levels of soil 
  • type and appearance of soil 
  • age of plants 

For more tips related to soil in your garden, spend some time to learn about Soil Solarization

How To Improve Soil Quality in Your Garden

How To Improve Soil Quality In Your Garden

The foundation of any garden is the soil and if it is treated correctly it will reward you. The soil in your garden needs to be improved and conditioned each year to meet the demands of the weather and cultivation.

If you need to improve the quality of your soil, there are a few methods that you can use.

Boost Your Soil with Farmyard Manure

Farmyard manure from chickens, horses, cows or sheep will have trace element content and be high in nutrients. This makes it ideal for boosting the quality of your soil. The manure boosts the nutrient content while helping the structure of the soil.

It also releases the nutrients slowly into the growing bed over the course of the season. If your soil has excessively high nitrogen levels, well-rotted manure that has been left to break down over months will reduce this.

Use Garden Compost

Garden compost is a soil booster that requires little effort and will be readily available when you need it. Garden and kitchen waste will need to be left to naturally decompose with the help of micro-organisms. 

This will form a friable and light material that adds nutrients to the soil. To get a well-balanced compost, you need a mixture of nitrogen and carbon-based materials that have all the necessary nutrients to boost your soil.

How To Improve Soil Quality in Your Garden - Copy

Add Some Seaweed

Traditionally, seaweed has been added to soil in coastal regions because it provides high nutrient content and is easy to come by. Seaweed offers a lot of nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium for your soil which is needed for healthy plant growth.

Fresh seaweed can be added to the soil like manure or you can place it on the garden beds like mulch. You can also get this in a powdered or liquid form to add to your garden.

Use Leaf Mould

Leaf mould is made from fallen leaves and is great for conditioning your soil. You need to collect leaves in fall and create a sheltered heap in the garden or store them in plastic bags. The leaves should be left to rot for up to two years.

The crumbly mixture that is left will have little in the way of nutrients but can be mixed with compost for seed-slowing. Leaves from alder, oak, hornbeam, and beech are the best for this.

Grow Vegetables in Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost is the leftover material from mushroom farming and will have high organic matter content. This is ideal for use as a mulch or to maintain the composition of the soil. The compost is alkaline and will not be suitable for acid-loving plants.

Fish, Blood and Bone

This creates an organic and general-purpose fertilizer that offers a slow-release. The mixture will promote strong plant growth and provide the nourishment the plants require. When plants take up these nutrients, it will be on an as needed basis which reduces the chance of overfeeding.

How to Prepare Soil for Vegetable Garden

Check Your Soil's pH Level

Before you even begin to acquire plant seeds to grow, you must first identify the pH level of the soil in your garden. The pH is used to determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil.

The neutral pH level is 7.0. If your soil has a pH ranging from 1.0 to 6.9, it is noted as acidic. If the pH level of your soil is between 7.1 and 14, your soil is considered as having more alkaline than acid. 

In order to grow vegetables, we recommend having a garden soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.9 since vegetables prefer a bit of acidity. With the right soil pH, your vegetables will thrive.

How to Prepare Soil for Vegetable Garden

You have three options to get the results.

The first option:

Send a soil sample to a commercial soil laboratory. Remember to fill the soil sample with soil from different areas in your garden. Because one soil sample does not accurately represent the average soil pH in your garden.

You would not want this to happen as availing this service could cost you a hundred dollars.

Second option:

You have is to visit a state university that works with a cooperative. Just like the first option, all you have to do is to send a soil sample for testing. The significant difference here is the cost, which will only be around twenty dollars.

Third option (my preferred method):

Of course, you can opt to do the soil testing yourself. You can get soil test kit for just ten dollars. Furthermore, you should know that soil pH does not stay the same. It is highly recommended that you check the soil pH level once every two years if you plan on growing new plant varieties in your garden.

In particular, you should do it during the fall season. The fall season is not a suitable season to plant new crops due to the cold temperatures lasting for months. Thus, you have enough time to modify the soil pH level just before you grow plants in spring. 

Additionally, you must be patient when it comes to adjusting the soil pH level. It could take a month before the soil achieves the recommended pH level, especially if it’s extremely acidic or alkaline.

Here is a video about the soil pH level:

Apply Compost

Once you’ve adjusted the soil pH level to suit the vegetables, it’s time to add compost in the garden soil. Compost acts as a natural fertilizer to improve the health of your soil. Apart from being a food source of microorganisms, compost also provides moisture.

While bags of organic compost are available for purchase at your local garden supply store, you can also make your own organic compost for free. Apart from kitchen scraps, you can gather dried leaves, straw, grass clippings, and even manure for your compost pit. Together, they will create a thick layer of compost.

Just remember to move the layers around and to give the compost pit enough moisture. If you are worried that the compost pit will invite rodents and harmful animals in your property, you can get bins to cover the compost pit.

Improve the Soil Texture

Compost, mulch, and organic matter, in general, will improve the soil texture. If you have sandy soil, you can apply around three to four inches of compost to make it less sandy. Once the vegetables begin to grow, you can apply a layer of mulch around them. This mulch can be made up of bark, dried leaves, and wood chips.

If your garden has silty soil, you can develop the soil texture by applying an inch-thick layer of compost or any organic material. Also, you should stop the soil from becoming compacted. For garden soil that is rich in clay, it should be applied with a two-inch layer of compost.

Consequently, you should consider growing the vegetables in a raised garden bed if you have either silty soil or clay-rich soil. This raised bed will reduce foot traffic and soil compaction while enhancing the drainage.

All in all, preparing the garden soil for growing vegetables is not difficult. You won’t have a problem as long as you are patient and well-informed. Apart from getting the right soil pH, you should also try composting and improving the soil texture.

Soil Amendments In A Nutshell 

Soil amendments provide a lot of benefits to one’s garden or landscape. They could make soil improve its quality, make the plants more stable, and adjust the soil’s acidity and alkaline levels.

Since soil amendments have various types, gardeners would choose among them for specific purposes, such as making the soil more porous or correcting its pH level. While there are ready-made amendments, mixing up various elements, such as compost, peat moss, and manure could be an excellent choice for amending the soil.  

If you want to enhance your landscape, you may first consider choosing the appropriate soil amendment. Will you be using manure-based soil? Or will you add more potassium with potash?

Whichever your situation is, think about the points you’ve gained in this article. Look at the red flags—the materials which may burn the plants or make the soils more acidic. Either way, your landscape will have the benefits it deserves as long as the suitable soil amendments are applied. 

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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