We’ve all seen beautiful gardens that we envy and want to replicate in our own yards. However, your progress can get halted before you’ve even begun when you face that rock-hard, dry garden bed. The compacted dirt seems incapable of sustaining the beautiful garden you envisioned. How do you revive that soil so you can bring life and beauty to your garden? Fortunately, there are ways to resurrect your compacted dirt into healthy soil.
1.Test your soil – It could be prudent to get your soil tested at your local cooperative extension office. If the soil is contaminated, such as full of lead or was previously doused in weed killer, more extreme steps may need to be taken.
2. Pick the weeds – Before really digging in, pull out any weeds that are already growing in the soil. Getting rid of the weeds will preserve the nutrients in the soil for the plants you plan to grow.
3. Bust up the hard soil – At this point, it is most effective to use a small rototiller or similar tool to break up the hard soil. Before doing so, determine if the soil is actually clay by wetting a fistful. If it can be shaped into a long ribbon like modeling clay rather than being crumbly, it is clay and should not be broken up with a rototiller. Doing so could create a harder layer underneath. In that case, either look into raised garden beds or using a lot of organic material as a top layer.
4. Mix in compost – Use the rototiller to mix in organic material, such as compost, and to aerate the soil. Having a large compost supply to begin will also make further upkeep much easier. Keep adding compost until you can squeeze together a handful of soil and it will just start to hold together. Lightly turn over the dirt while avoiding large plant roots. However, be careful not to over cultivate, as this could actually lead to more compact soil.
5. Spread quality top soil over the top – Use a few inches of quality top soil to cover the existing garden bed, along with compost and similar organic material. Since erosion washes away top soil, it could be advisable to use silt socks or the EcoBlanket® to halt erosion.
6. Add mulch – After planting, add a layer of mulch over the soil. Mulch helps to protect the soil and plant roots from intense heat, preserve the moisture in the soil, and keep the soil and roots warm in the winters. In addition, mulch smothers any remaining weed seeds and provides a clean, finished look.
7. Redirect foot traffic – Oftentimes compact soil is caused by heavy traffic by machinery, feet, cars, or animals. To protect your soil from becoming more compact, install a walkway or path so that traffic no longer compacts the soil and creates a hard garden bed.
Bringing life back into your soil can open the door to beautiful landscaping, and Express Landscape Products in Utah can provide quick and easy service with mulch, compost, and erosion control that will get you there. Together we can create a clean and lush landscape for your home!