Fertilizers are a great way to add nutrients to soil, but amendments modify and improve the soil itself, getting below the root of the problem. Whether you want to improve aeration, drainage and rooting depth in heavy clay soils, or increase the water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soils, consider utilizing amendments and changing your soil for good from a backyard garden to a multi-acre pasture.
Most Common Uses of Soil Amendments
1. Soil Structure
If your soil has poor structure, it’s hard for anything to get in or out. Gypsum can be a great amendment to improve soil structure through the penetration of roots and any additional fertilizers or amendments, without any significant changes to soil pH levels. Also consider adding vermiculite and/or perlite, two materials that are suitable for all soil types and aid in loosening soil and preventing compaction, while still retaining necessary moisture.
2. Soil Nutrients
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to find perfect land with high levels of all nutrients. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools readily available to identify and treat poor nutrient levels. First, it’s important to test your soil to know what you are working with and eliminate the guesswork. Then, stabilize the nutrient levels through amendments. “Meals” are a great resource for adding nitrogen to your soil, including alfalfa meal, blood meal, cottonseed meal, feather meal and more. For phosphorus, bone meal or rock phosphate can boost your levels. Greensand or lime-based amendments are quality options for increasing potassium.
3. Water Retention
Much like the retainment and availability of nutrients, proper water retention is essential for maintaining healthy soil, and in turn, healthy grass. Look to organic matter, such as aged manure or compost, as a solution for water retention (and for the rest of these common problems, too–organic matter is one of the best amendments for overall soil health). Peat can be a beneficial soil amendment for absorbing moisture, making it especially handy for sandy soil, while loosening heavy clay soils. If using peat, you’ll want to make sure you are in an environment where it won’t fully dry out–this can cause it to become too hard in texture and difficult to remoisten.
Whether you think you’re facing one or all of the problems above, or something completely different, Missouri Southern Seed is here to help you get the most out of your soil, and the plants that grow in it. This is just the beginning of soil amendments–the options are endless, and we encourage you to give us a call to talk about what can help your grass the most.