Soil compaction reduces the volume of topsoil and subsoil and can create an infertile environment for the growth of plant life. Soil compaction can occur by external factors exerting a force on the soil or by internal changes to the composition of the soil. The type of soil compaction is defined by the factors causing the compaction.
Excessive pedestrian foot traffic over a lawn's surface can cause excessive soil compaction. Infrastructure edges, such as around sidewalks, fences and buildings, are the highest-prone areas to pedestrian soil compaction. Creating paths and walkways is the best way to manage this type of soil compaction over a lawn area.
The heavier and more frequent the vehicular traffic over a lawn area, the greater the soil compaction. This type of soil compaction is most prevalent around farming areas where heavy machinery is needs for tilling, sowing and harvesting crops. Creating specific tracks for vehicle traffic will minimize the compacted area.
Excess handling of lawn or garden soil causes pore spaces in the soil to collapse, leading to soil compaction. The leveling of soil gradients and transportation of soil are both common causes of soil compact due to excess handling. In addition, the machinery and equipment needed for handling large quantities of soil is heavy and can, in itself, cause compaction.
Lawn surfaces that receive insufficient irrigation are prone to soil compaction due to a lack of water pressure that helps to maintain available pore space for the transport of organic and mineral matter. Infrequent, deep watering is best for plant growth and the best way to prevent moisture compaction.
Organic Matter Loss
Organic matter provides mass and structure to soil composition. In a healthy soil environment, the organic matter is broken down and then replaced by new organic matter. If there is a lack of organic matter to replace the decayed organic matter, soil compaction will result.