Soil Conditioners: How to use them in Six Easy Steps

February 1, 2023
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Soil conditioners are additives you put in your soil to improve the quality of your soil. Certain plants/vegetation thrives better in their “perfect soil”. There is a wide variety of soil conditioners or amendments, these terms are often interchangeable, however, in some cases a soil conditioner, may refer to a product used for the sole purpose of loosening, or otherwise improving the soil structure in preparation for planting. A soil amendment most often contains a blend of organic or synthetic fertilizers to encourage and help establish plant growth. Even mulch is a soil conditioner since it actively improves the quality of your soil. It is recommended that you add soil conditioners before you plant and often afterwards if using organic soil conditioners.

Step One: Test the Soil Conditioner

Test your soil to find out what’s missing and what type of soil conditioner you may need. Most universities and colleges have a horticulture department with soil testing facilities. For instance, if your soil has too much clay, sand or is too acidic you will need a soil conditioner.

Step Two: Measure

Measure your yard and/or garden to figure out how much soil conditioner you will need. The recommended application rate is usually specified on the soil conditioner package, and it is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid over-applying and potentially causing harm to the plants. The size of the garden or lawn, the type of plants being grown, and the soil type are also factors to consider when determining the amount of soil conditioner to use. To ensure the best results, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a local horticulturist or soil specialist who can provide personalized recommendations.

Step Three: Take Out Debris

Remove any large rocks or weeds from your yard and/or garden. Also remove leaves, branches, twigs, and other organic matter that can obstruct the soil surface. Clearing the debris will allow for better access to the soil and ensure that the soil conditioner can be evenly distributed and properly incorporated into the soil. Additionally, removing debris will help prevent the growth of weeds and unwanted plant species, which can compete with desired plants for nutrients and water. Homeowners can use rakes, brooms, or leaf blowers to clear the debris and dispose of it in a compost bin or green waste collection area. Once the debris has been removed, the homeowner can then till or aerate the soil to improve soil structure and prepare it for the application of soil conditioner.

Step Four: Till

Till the soil to a depth of about 4 to 5 inches. Tilling the soil will help to incorporate the soil conditioner into the soil and improve soil structure, allowing for better root growth and water absorption. The homeowner can use a garden fork or rototiller to till the soil. When tilling, it is important to take care not to damage the soil structure or compact the soil, which can lead to poor root growth and water infiltration. It is also recommended to avoid tilling the soil when it is too dry or too wet, as this can further damage the soil structure. To prepare the soil for tilling, the homeowner should remove any large rocks, roots, and other obstructions that may be present. Once the soil has been tilled, it should be watered to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, which will help the soil conditioner to be more effectively absorbed into the soil.

Step Five: Spread

Spread the soil conditioner over your yard and/or garden. (Call or Visit your local landscape supply company for the recommended amount of soil conditioner for your space).

Step Six: Condition

Once the soil has been tilled to a depth of 4 to 5 inches and watered, a homeowner can then work the soil conditioner into the soil. The soil conditioner should be spread evenly over the soil surface and then incorporated into the soil using a garden fork or rototiller. This will help to ensure that the soil conditioner is evenly distributed and well-mixed into the soil. When working the soil conditioner into the soil, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application rates, as over-applying the soil conditioner can lead to fertilizer burn and harm plants. To achieve the best results, the soil conditioner should be worked into the soil to a depth of 4 to 5 inches, which will provide the roots of the plants with access to the beneficial nutrients and organic matter in the soil conditioner. After working the soil conditioner into the soil, the area should be watered thoroughly to help activate the soil conditioner and encourage better root growth.

Happy planting and if you need additional information, please contact us today.