Importance of Soil Amendment and After Care for Plants in Arizona

Soil amendment can be an important part of your lawn and garden maintenance. It is important to know that soil amendment and fertilizing are two different things. Although there are some similarities, each plays a different role in keeping the soil healthy. This quick guide will help you better understand these differences and how to properly amend your soil for the best results.

What Is Soil Amendment?

During soil amendment, amendments are added to the soil to change and improve it. This is different from fertilizing. During fertilizing, nutrients are added to the soil. During amendment, the additions are added to modify and improve the condition of the soil itself. Fertilizer does not change the condition of the soil. Rather, it makes nutrients more readily available for the plants present or the plants that will be planted later.

Why Should Soil Be Amended?

Soil needs amendment when it is of poor quality to begin with. The condition of the soil will greatly affect the soil’s ability to support plant roots. Experts call this the tilth of the soil. When tilth is healthy, plants will be healthy.

Amendments can also affect the availability of nutrients, making it easier for plants to absorb the nutrients naturally present in the soil or nutrients that were introduced through fertilizers.

How Is Amendment Done?

Soil amendments can be mixed down into the soil of new lawns and gardens before the planting begins. This is the most ideal time to amend soil. If you are working with an already established lawn, the amendments can be added at the surface and then simply watered in. Amendments must penetrate down into the soil to be effective.

What Can Be Used for Soil Amendment?

Many different types of amendments can be added to the soil to improve its quality. Let’s look at a few different types that a landscape designer might use.

Organic matter – Organic matter is a common type of soil amendment. This might consist of completed compost, rotted leaves, or other types of natural material. This material can be worked down into the soil to improve the way soil particles interact. Organic matter is also useful in improving the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients.

Lime – Lime is often used to restore the pH balance in the soil. Lime is a source of calcium, and it will raise the pH levels, which is important in overly acidic soil. Performing pH testing on your soil can help you better determine what the soil needs to create a thriving growth environment. Low pH levels will create problems for your lawn or garden.

Elemental sulfur – If a pH level is too alkaline, or you need low pH levels for certain crops, you can add elemental sulfur to lower the pH level.

Ammonia sulfate – This addition can multitask as a soil amendment and a fertilizer. This can be a good option when your soil needs a dose of nitrogen and its pH levels to be lowered.

Gypsum – Gypsum can be used when factors other than pH levels need altering. Gypsum helps to loosen densely compacted clay soil to improve water and root penetration. This can be important for tree installation in areas with tightly compacted soil.