Part 1 – The Importance of Healthy Soil in Your Garden

April 28, 2015

“Bad things happen when you treat soil like dirt.” -David McDonald, SPU

After we attended a soil seminar hosted by Cedar Grove, these words were stuck in my head because they so perfectly summarize the importance of having healthy soil in your garden. “What? Healthy soil? Dirt is dirt, right?” Nope! Plants grow in many different environments around the world, and each environment has a specific “recipe” for soil that was perfected by Mother Nature herself. Imagine standing barefoot on an open mountainside vs. standing barefoot deep in a forest. On the mountainside you would feel dry, rocky soil under your feet while in a forest you would feel moist, spongy soil. Different soil, different plants, different environments. In your garden, plants grow best when they are rooted in soil that is similar to their native environment. If we stick to Mother Nature’s soil recipes, life will be much easier.

Benefits of Healthy Soil in Your Landscape

Less Irrigation Needed – If you have the right type of soil for your plants, that soil will do a better job of holding the correct amount of rainwater for your garden, lessening the amount of irrigation needed. To some, water is a precious resource that shouldn’t be wasted. To others, water is a bill they pay. No mater your point of view, it benefits you to use it wisely!

Drainage Problems Fixed – Do you notice standing water in your garden or lawn after a heavy rain? Typically when houses are built, the layer of healthy topsoil is scraped away and you’re left with the clay that’s underneath. If there’s one thing clay is good at, it’s holding water. Most drainage problems can be solved by improving the quality of soil, adding more compost, or simply regrading the problem areas. Check out our post about drainage for more information on this!

Fewer Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizer Applications Needed – Pesticides are used to kill harmful insects, herbicides are used to kill unwanted weeds, and fertilizer adds nutrients back into the soil of the garden. Instead of applying all these synthetic chemicals to your lawn and garden, why not work with nature to achieve the same goal? Healthy soil can have as many as 4 billion organisms in one teaspoon of soil. This huge diversity of organisms works together to help keep the weeds and insects that are harmful to your plants in check while at the same time producing vital nutrients.

Less Maintenance and a More Beautiful Landscape Overall – Work smart, not hard. Due to the reasons above, you’ll have a healthier, more beautiful landscape that requires less maintenance. Yes, curb appeal is an important investment, but it’s really about investing in the experience your family will have in your home. If you do things right the first time and cultivate healthy soil, you’ll spend less time working and more time doing what you like to do in the garden, whether that’s reading quietly by yourself or entertaining friends and family.

Environmentally Responsible – If you consider yourself a steward of the environment, then amending the soil in your yard is another step you can take to lessen the impact of your lifestyle on the planet. When rain falls on our gardens and lawns, it eventually trickles down into streams and rivers. If you have healthy soil in your yard, the soil holds rainwater for a longer period of time and filters it, extracting contaminants before the water reaches the streams and rivers. Check out soilforsalmon.org to learn more.

Do you want to learn how to cultivate healthy soil in your landscape? Stay tuned for Part 2!

~Deanna

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