It doesn't matter if you're a new gardener or a seasoned pro. Building better soil is the most important thing you can do to improve your garden.
Your soil helps keep plants upright, channels water and air to the roots and feeds growth. Garden soil needs good fertility and the right texture. Essential nutrients and correct pH levels help with fertility. Soil particles, cohesiveness and the ability to transfer water and air all affect texture. If your flower bed is struggling, there are certain steps you can take to improve soil.
This guide will help you evaluate your soil and help you determine the fix. From composting to manure, we can help you find a solution.
You can estimate your soil's health by looking at your plants. If they are doing well, don't fix what isn't broken. If your flowers are yellowing, not blooming or look sickly, test the soil.
Your local co-op or nursery can test your soil. The Home Depot also sells at-home testing kits. A soil report will give you a load of information. You'll know your soil's texture, pH and nutritional composition. From there, you can tell whether you need any amendments and how much you'll need.
Plants can't take up nutrients unless the soil's acid/alkaline levels are correct. If the soil test says your pH is off, there are slight changes you can make. You could add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. Make sure you do it in stages, so you don't shock the flowers to death.
Rake the lime or sulfur over the garden. Dig it in thoroughly with a shovel or garden tiller. You'll need to check the soil pH every few years. Lime or sulfur gets consumed over time and will need replenishing.
The texture of your soil is important for water retention and air flow. Clay-type soils are too dense. It makes soil too moist, which causes roots to drown. Sandy-type soils can make beds drain too quickly. This means the roots can't absorb enough moisture.
The texture of your soil is important for water retention and air flow. Clay-type soils are too dense. It makes soil too moist, which causes roots to drown. Sandy-type soils can make beds drain too quickly. This means the roots can't absorb enough moisture.The texture of your soil is important for water retention and air flow. Clay-type soils are too dense. It makes soil too moist, which causes roots to drown. Sandy-type soils can make beds drain too quickly. This means the roots can't absorb enough moisture.
If your soil texture is off, improve it by adding organic material. Compost, manure, peat moss and grass clippings can help. Decaying organic matter helps sandy soil and clay soil. In sandy soil, it helps retain water that would otherwise drain away. It corrects clay soil by making it loser. This allows air and water to better penetrate.
Adding Compost to Flower Beds
Adding compost before you mulch helps retain water. It supports healthy plant growth. It also helps plants fight diseases, pests and other stresses. You can buy compost or create it yourself with kitchen scraps. Composting supports the health of all plants in your garden. For the best results, follow these helpful tips:
- Calculate the square footage of your flower beds. Check the compost bag to find out how much you’ll need or ask a Home Depot Garden Center associate.
- If there’s old mulch on the flower bed, rake it away. You can compost it or reuse old mulch around trees and shrubs.
- Add a 1-inch layer of compost on soil. Break up any clumps. Keep the compost off plants.
- Work compost into the soil. Avoid digging too deep so that you don't uproot any plants.
- Lightly water the compost. Soaking the soil is only necessary if it is dry.
Adding Manure to Flower Beds
Manure has many benefits for a flower bed. Manure contains nitrogen that helps with leaf formation. It contains phosphorus to aid in metabolism and root support. It has potassium to help with flowering. It can also aid in clay and sandy soil conditions.
Manure helps achieve the right amount of water-holding capacity in soil. It helps produce thriving flowers that resist disease. Manure attracts earthworms. Aerating worms add to the soil building with their own deposits of worm castings. It creates beneficial microorganisms that beat soil pathogens.
Cow and horse manure is the best. Bagged manure is common at home and garden centers. You can get it fresh from a local farm, but you'll need to compost it. Bagged manure saves you the trouble of having to compost it.
Adding Peat Moss to Flower Beds
Peat moss is dead fibrous material. It forms when mosses and other living material decompose in peat bogs. It helps gardens efficiently manage water and hold onto nutrients. It also improves the texture and consistency of soil.
Peat moss is cheap and works great in loosening soil. It's very dusty, so before using it you'll want to wet it. This will make it easier to work with. Peat moss is acidic, so it's ideal for acid-loving flowers. If you want your soil more alkaline, compost works better.
The great thing about peat moss is it doesn't break down easily. This means one application of peat moss can last you several years.
Looking for a tool to complete your gardening project and improve your soil? The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.