Happy Soil, Happy Tree.

Date posted:

There are not many things I love more than digging my hands into some healthy soil. There are also not many things I dislike more than digging my hands into some unhealthy, hard, compacted, and lifeless soil. With a healthy soil your hands effortlessly sink into the organic matter as the undesirable weeds pick right out. You can almost feel all of the beneficial life in your fingertips, and the plants seemingly breathe a relaxed sigh of relief as their leaves perk up once planted. With an unhealthy soil, you walk away asking for forgiveness after the onslaught of curse words are muttered and your hands look like a horrific crime scene from breaking up the ground that you thought was soil, but may just be concrete.....

Loam, Clay, and Sand.

Trees and plants resemble us (the 'us' from the previous crime scene) in their deep loathing of lifeless dirt. I can't prove it, but I am relatively sure the reason many plants are hard to pull out of their containers is because they sense the lifeless wasteland they are about to enter, their roots holding on to their tiny containers as they weep. Luckily, we can play the superheroes of this story as we ride in with our amazing superhero weapons (you know...the rakes, the shovels, and hoes, the high-tech stuff) and save the day. It's not an overnight process, but slowly the soil can start healing itself with our help.

To start, go get a soil test to a get a true baseline. It will give you a good idea of how far you're going to need to roll up the sleeves. Soil compaction is one of, if not the worst, enemies of soil and life. If your soil is compacted, it will need to be aerated at a minimum with a plug aerator. If the budget allows, an ISA Certified Arborist can be hired to airspade (basically an amazing tool that blows soil up around roots and hard to reach places without harming anything) around trees and planters. Once aerated, the best thing for any soil is to top dress it yearly with a layer of compost at least an inch thick. In a strictly unscientific way, just start dumping loads of compost around your grass, trees, and plants (really anywhere that has soil where you want things to grow). Once you are tired of filling up wheelbarrows and lugging them around, grab the high tech rake and start raking it out into a thin layer throughout your turf and plants. Once you have completed that, smile for a minute, give yourself a pat on the back, then go get some mulch. Not done yet! Mulch around all your trees, no questions, just do it. In an ideal world you will mulch all the way to the dripline of your trees. But in reality we will take what we can get! That mulch will protect your trees from weed-eater damage, protect the soil from losing moisture due to evaporation, resist compaction in the soil, and breakdown over time adding nutrients to the soil. So really, MULCH is the superhero of the story, sorry.

Airspade at work!

With a healthy soil your plants will start to thrive! A healthy plant can fight off most diseases and health-related issues without the aid of chemicals and fertilizers. The grass will be green and lush, the trees healthy and full, and the flowers will be the envy of the neighborhood! Always get a soil sample before anything to develop a baseline (mainly so you can feel accomplished in a year when you get another one to compare), then aerate, compost, mulch, and repeat next year. Investing in healthy soil will always save you money and heartache.

Healthy soil WILL:

1. Retain water so much longer than an unhealthy soil.

2. Support plant life better, reducing trips to the nursery to buy new flowers!

3. Keep you from calling us to remove your beloved trees.