How To Improve Soil Quality With Amendments

Depending on what kind of plants you have, there will be a point when your plants encounter complications and diseases.

Now, there could be various reasons as to why this happens, like lack of nutrients, insufficient water retention, low organic matters etc. These threats can easily be prevented if you start your fundamentals strong, which leads us back to the basics – soil care.

Weak or low-quality soil is already difficult to work with, which is why for starters, you should purchase premium soil or create your own soil to have a great start. Afterwards, you can then proceed with adding amendments to your soil.

In this article, you will know exactly how to improve your soil quality with amendments. It will take some time and effort to do so, but the rewards will be far greater than your sacrifice! But first, let’s get to know what soil amendments are.

What Are Soil Amendments?

Soil amendment refers to anything that you add to your soil in order to improve it. You can consider amendments as toppings, additional nutrients, or supplements to your soil. This enhances your soil’s physical qualities in a way that helps your plants thrive in their soil.

Soil Amendment Purpose

Soil amendments are widely used in agriculture to boost plant growth and development by adding necessary organic and inorganic nutrients to the soil. In addition to that, this improves the soil tilth and water holding capacity of the soil.

As mentioned, there can be synthetic amendments, which are not applicable to all plants as this can cause damages. This is one of the major restrictions that organic growers follow, and this restriction includes the banning of potash, diammonium phosphate, urea, etc.

Organic growers prefer using organic soil amendments as they are much healthier and safer to apply to the soil. Manure, mulch, and compost are some of the common amendments they use.

Six different types of soil.
Image From: Organic Solutions

Soil Amendment Precautions

Biological amendments, especially animal feces or manure, carry a risk of bacterial pathogens such as E. Coli, Salmonella, and many others! These human pathogens can be present in animal manure, which is something you should reconsider if you do not want to risk yourself in adding these amendments.

A lot of growers use a lot of biological soil amendments, and to do so they wear proper gardening equipment such as gloves and other protective gear to be safe from these pathogens.

A gardener wearing protective gloves.

5 Amendments That Are Great For Soil

Here are 5 of the best amendments you can add to your soil for greater growth increase and development. You may choose one or two below that is compatible with the plants you have in your garden.

1) Aged Manure

Why aged manure? Why not fresh manure? To begin with, fresh manure can easily burn your plants due to the hot temperature of fresh manures. Whereas aged manure provides your soil the primary nutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium without burning your plants. Moreover, aged manure is considered an organic matter, which we all know is very beneficial to our plants.

A wheelbarrow full of aged manure.
Image From: Gardening Know-How

2) Fertilizers

You can never go wrong with fertilizers. They are effective, cheap, and you even make one of your own! Aside from its purpose of fertilizing your plants, fertilizers also replenish nutrients in your soil.

Moreover, fertilizers will continuously supply your soil with the necessary nutrients to encourage your plants to have a healthy production. Without fertilizers, crop yields will deteriorate over time.

A hand resting on soil in a garden.
Image From: Kellog

3) Mulch

Mulch is fantastic for your soil! They are a good source of nutrients and they enhance water retention, which is great for plants that require a little bit more moisture.  Moreover, they enhance the nutrient status of the soil and control erosion losses, suppress weeds, and remove residual effects from pesticides. They are widely available in garden centers, and you can even find your own mulch!

But make sure to clean them thoroughly before adding them to your soil because there might be pests that can damage both your soil and plants.

4) Compost

Compost is very effective in improving soil. Compost acts as an effective surface for other amendments just like mulch. This increases the concentration of organic matter and improves tilth. This keeps weeds from growing and keeps the cycle of nutrients going as the organic material decomposes.

A person holding a handful of compost.
Image From: Better Homes & Gardens

5) Cover Crops

Cover crops are popularly known as a soil improvement technique due to their amazing benefits to your soil and plants. This is because they contain an abundance of nutrients, and they are known to help with root structure as well.  They improve water conversation by reducing water runoff.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are commonly asked questions from beginner gardeners that are interested in improving their soil by using soil amendments.

Should I Amend My Shrub’s Soil?

For shrubs, there is a well-known rule out there that implies that you should not amend the soil when planting a tree or a shrub that grows big. This is because its roots will most likely go beyond the hole where you placed your amendments, which will go to waste. For trees and shrubs, just focus on digging a hole that is wide but not too deep at the same time.

How Deep Should I Amend Soil?

About 1 to 2 feet is great, but this heavily depends on the size of the plant you are placing it on. If it is big, consider digging a wider hole and in a slightly deeper range.

How To Amend Clay Soil?

Clay soil is known for being a hard and compact type of soil. They are quite difficult to work with and they do not hold water very well, which is why amending it helps the soil to loosen. So, how do you amend clay soil?

Well, it is actually pretty easy when it is slightly moist and easily dug. You will need to use a gardening tool such as a shovel or hoe to break it up as deep as you can. Then add any of the amendments above to loosen it. You can mix organic materials as well, which is a very effective way to improve it.

Is Soil Amendment Necessary?

There is no doubt that soil amendment is beneficial to both your soil and plants. These amendments help retain water, nutrients, drive off pests, feed the microorganisms in your soil,  and so much more!

This is the reason why plants with soil that is applied with amendments have great growth and reach their full potential!

Final Thoughts

I personally use some of these amendments above and have seen the amazing results of my plant’s growth and development.

All of them are guaranteed to be very effective, but always remember to protect yourself if you decide to pick up organic matters from parks, forests, etc. When it comes to price, they are very affordable as well but you must find a reputable supplier to get the best soil amendments out there.

Do you have experience with these amendments? I would love to know about your experiences. So, do not hesitate to comment down below and let’s have a talk!

About Ador Flores

Greetings! My name is Ador Flores, and I have been in love with nature ever since I was young. I bet you can agree when I say that mother nature tends to astonish you as well. While I may not be able to create mountains, waterfalls, and other majestic landscapes in my backyard, one thing is that I can for sure mimic nature by having a beautiful garden at home. Just from this simple mindset, it did not take long for me to turn gardening into a passion - a passion that changed my life forever. With the experiences I have had with gardening throughout all these years, I can definitely assure you that gardening is for everyone and I would love to share with all of you guys how fulfilling it really is! With the help of Seasonal Preferences, let us all become better gardeners and continue to promote a green and clean environment!

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