With the summer season now upon us, it is more important than ever for homeowners and landscapers to know if the soil that they are planting in is healthy. You can purchase a soil testing kit, but there are also visual signs your soil is unhealthy. These can be in the soil itself, or, reflected in the plants growing in the soil. Weather can also indicate if you have unhealthy soil. This week’s article will focus on visual signs your soil is unhealthy.
A common problem with soil is that the PH is too low. This can actually cause a release of aluminum that can stunt the plant’s growth. Other signs of a low PH are, yellowing, wilted, and dying leaves. Test the soil to see what the PH is. The normal range is 5.0 and 8.5. If you need to correct your soil’s PH, we have several products at our locations that can help you.
Another one of the visual signs that your soil is unhealthy is if when pulling up a plant, the soil is compacted into hard clumps with stunted root growth. Water will also gather on the soil surface if it is too compacted. Healthy soil should be dark-colored and fall away from the roots if it is healthy Heavy foot traffic is often a cause of overly compacted soil. Aeration will usually remedy this.
Earthworms can also be an indicator of unhealthy soil. If you dig it up and find that there are none in the first foot of soil, it means the soil is unhealthy. Healthy soil should be full of life. If you’re not finding earthworms and other insects in and around your soil, you should probably look further into why it is unhealthy. If plants are not growing, chances are pollinators like honeybees and hummingbirds will not be showing up to do their job.
If you dig into your soil and find clay, this is another indicator your plants and grass will not grow. Clay is often bright red, ochre, or black. To tell if you have a lot of clay, grab a fistful of wet dirt and squeeze it. If it feels slimy, it means there is too much clay in the soil. Clay can severely prevent the roots from getting the proper amount of oxygen they need.