Not all soil is equally rich and abundant with nutrients. In some areas, the soil may have heavy clay content making it difficult for plants to grow. When the soil compacts, vital spaces where seeds take root or where nutrients can filter down to the roots of plants are squeezed out. Roots require air and water, so when the soil is compacted, air voids where air and water can flow in are eliminated between the soil particles.
What you should do with compacted soil
Plants may find it difficult to grow in compacted soil but growth is still possible. And one way to improve the soil is to loosen or decompact it. This is essential for rain gardens and other special plantings that mainly rely on soil to help absorb water from storms before it washes away pollution to waterways. Adding organic compost can also be a good way to create a higher quality of soil.
The process of decompacting soil
Stunted growth in plants means the soil is compacted. You can test by getting a shovel of soil in the ground. If you can’t, then it’s compacted. What you can do to effectively decompact the soil is to till it to loosen it to a certain depth. Ideally, it’s two feet down for trees, 8-12 inches for perennials, 4-6 inches for lawns, and 18 inches for shrubs. When tilling, have it done laterally.
While there are professionals who can do the job, if you are physically up to doing it yourself, it is still possible. You can make use of a small rototiller.
Know that it’s not too late to decompact the soil in your garden. Early seasons of spring and fall are the best times to do it but the earlier, the better. Have it completed before you plant your perennials and shrubs.
The process of adding organic compost to the soil
One of the ways of creating fresh layers of fertile soil is composting. There are others who just throw rotting vegetables on the ground but for the unseasoned composter, buying mature compost can be an option.
For DIY composting, start by gathering leaves and other yard trim. Have them contained in a composting bin. Or opt for private services that can pick up your compost and return the soil right in front of your door. However, for those who don’t have the space or ability to do composting, there is organic compost in local home improvement stores available by bags or online.
Use the compost by mixing it into the soil at a ratio of 1:9 depth. It takes 8 cubic feet of compost to cover a 100 square feet garden to a depth of one inch. This saves on maintenance as the soil will become healthier-fitting for plants to thrive.