gardner amending soil

How To Amend the Soil for Your Backyard Plants

Not every yard is blessed with naturally nutrient-rich soil that is ideal for plants.

But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to have a bare and boring yard! You can amend the soil where you want to plant a shrub or garden plant to give it a space to grow and breathe. Soil amending is a process where you dig out your native soil and replace it with the type of soil that a plant needs to survive.

Do soil amendments really work?

There are mixed feelings on whether it’s a good idea to amend your soil. Some people believe that soil amendments are essential to growing healthy plants, while others believe that if it won’t grow in your native soil, you shouldn’t be planting it. But most people don’t choose a house based on the quality of the soil for plants, so amending it can be a great option to allow you to grow plants and vegetables in your own backyard.

So, what exactly does a soil amendment do? Plants need organic matter, air circulation and proper drainage to grow and thrive. When you amend the soil right around your plants, you essentially create a pocket of permeable, well-aerated, nutritious soil. The problem is that this pocket is surrounded by the uninhabitable native soil and plant roots tend to have problems with boundaries. Since the roots can’t spread out beyond the amended soil, they will grow inward and create a tight ball of roots, essentially making your plant a potted plant, just in the ground.

How to amend your garden soil (correctly)

In order to amend your soil in a way that will benefit your plants, you need to allow room for a little more time and a little more digging. Follow these tips to ensure your garden grows to its full potential.

  • Improve all soil – if you’re going to amend your soil, try to do all of it rather than just the area around the plant. This prevents the issue of the plant trying to go out of its boundaries since you’re eliminating those boundaries. Raised beds are a great option for a large-scale garden, or you can dig up the entire area and replace or amend the soil. For flower beds and lawns, it’s recommended to amend about a foot deep.
  • Go big – if you can’t amend the entire yard, dig the largest hole you can for your tree or shrub. You want to give your plant as much room as possible, ideally a hole at least three feet in diameter.
  • Don’t overdo it – the biggest issue with soil amendments is that there’s a severe difference between the amended and native soil. Try mixing small amounts of the amended soil with the native soil to prevent the boundary from being such a shock to the plants.
  • Choose different plants – the easiest way to have a successful garden is to just pick plants that will do well in your native soil. For example, if you have clay soil, avoid coastal plants that do best in sandy soil. This will make gardening the easiest since you won’t need to replace your soil amendments.

If you don’t mind a little extra work, soil amendments can greatly improve the variety of plants that you can have in your yard. Front Range Arborists can help, with turf services including fertilization, weed control, and aeration. Call the experts at Front Range Arborists to make sure you maintain the yard of your dreams.