This is a question many homeowners ask. If you plan on doing any gardening, you’ll need healthy, nutrient-rich soil to encourage plant growth.
Poor-quality soil will only dampen your efforts, restricting growth while increasing the risk of disease. So, what are some of the elements that make good top soil?
Top Soil: Defined
The term “top soil” is used to define the upper layer of dirt in a garden or landscape. Normally, it’s slightly darker than the dirt underneath, which is one of its most distinguishable features.
Working with top soil is easier because it’s soft, whereas the dirt underneath is often riddled with hard clay. But the real beauty of top soil is its nutrient-rich consistency, feeding plants the food they need to grow to sustain good health.
One of the first things you should do upon planning a gardening or landscaping project is check the pH level of your soil. Ranging from 0 to 14, this is a measurement of the soil’s acidity or alkalinity.
A pH of 7.0 is neutral since it falls in the middle, whereas anything above is considered alkaline and anything below is considered acidic. Unfortunately, there’s no single “best” type of pH, since some plants prefer more acidic environments while others prefer alkaline.
Do some research to find out what pH levels the plants you intend to grow prefer.
Note: pH can be measured using an electronic tester or disposable testing kit. Try to get into the habit of testing your soil’s pH at least once a week to ensure it’s suitable for plant growth.
What’s the texture of your top soil like? If you are unsure, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Grab a handful of top soil and roll it around in your fingers.
Ideally, it should be fine, but too fine, with a good combination of particles from the Earth. If one particular particle is overly dominant, it could restrict your plants’ growth.
Top soil receives the bulk of its nutrients from organic matter, which is why it’s important to ensure there’s plenty of organic matter present in your landscape.
The good news is that most top soil will already contain organic matter – foliage, microorganisms, worms, insects, etc. all help to keep the soil nutrient-rich.
If you don’t see any of this matter, you may need to add either some organic or chemical-based fertilizer to give your top soil a helping hand.
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