The wide array of currently available soil treatment products enables the landscaper to work with damaged or low-quality grounds. Tools alter the physical properties of the soil while amendments may increase or decreases acidity and nutrient availability. Any time that gardeners contemplate an alteration of the soil’s makeup, it is vital to begin with a soil sample analysis that neatly defines the current properties of the ground. It also points toward beneficial treatments.
Aerators and Compost
Aeration treats compacted soil. Landscapers aerate hard soils, usually in spring or fall, to assist with the healthy root development of lawns. Since this process is only done once a year, the homeowner should consider renting a power aerator for an afternoon rather than purchasing one. Professional landscapers frequently own their machines since they service numerous accounts that benefit from soil aeration. The aerator either removes soil plugs from the lawn or relies on deep tines for creating air pockets underground. After the aerator does its job, the landscaper spreads between 1/4 and 3/4 of an inch of compost over the aerated surface to amend the soil.
Landscapers rely on lime when dealing with overly acidic soils. Neutral soil acidity falls in the 6.6 to 7.3 pH range, with any number below 3.5 being extremely acidic. A gardener who desires to grow plants that require a more alkaline environment increases the soil’s pH by judiciously applying powdered lime, crushed limestone, magnesium carbonate or hydroxides and working it into the ground. Liming the soil develops heightened microbial activity and infuses the ground with calcium and magnesium ions. It also increases the nutrient availability of phosphorus.
The opposite of liming, adding peat, copper sulfate and decomposing organic amendments decreases the soil’s pH to prepare the ground for acidity-loving plants. Both lime and peat require that the landscaper carefully time the introduction of the soil treatment products to given them adequate time for soil alteration prior to planting. As long as six months may be required to fully balance the soil pH.
Commercially available fertilizers are quick-working soil treatment products that increase the nutrients, which plants require for healthy growth. Depending on brand or application preference, consumers buy fertilizers as spreadable granules or mixes that the gardener waters into the garden soil. Other options are slow-release fertilizer stakes that are inserted near the roots of fruit trees or ornamental plants, and which release nutrients over the course of a growing season.