understanding soil amendments

Understanding Soil Amendments

We know it is cold, dark, and dreary in the northeast right now but keep in mind that spring is less than three months away. If you are taking steps now to plan out your spring lawn care process, you’ll want to include testing your soil in that plan. Soil amendments can be difficult to understand so we are putting together a quick guide on understanding soil amendments. Remember that soil should always be tested before applying soil amendments. Each of our store locations has soil amendments in stock and if you have any questions on understanding soil amendments, please reach out to one of our location managers.

Understanding Soil Amendments

Lime Soil Amendment
Lime is a soil amendment made from limestone rock. It contains natural calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. When you add lime to your soil, its compounds work to increase the soil’s PH. This makes the soil less acidic and more alkaline. Just remember that lime is not a substitute for fertilizer. Its primary purpose is to alter soil PH and lower acidity which improves the availability of plant nutrients.

Sulfur Soil Amendment
Sulfur has effects on both soil and plant health. It is primarily used to lower PH in high alkaline soils. Sulfur is not water-soluble and cannot be used as food by your plants. Instead, soil microbes feed on elemental sulfur producing a PH reducing effect. This oxidation produces sulfate which plants can absorb as food. The rate in which the oxidation occurs is influenced by the soil conditions. It occurs rapidly in soil with high oxygen levels. If the soil is wet, it slows the activity.

Gypsum Soil Amendment
Gypsum is calcium sulfate. It is mostly used for breaking up compact soil, especially clay soil. Landscapers mostly use it to change the structure of soils that have been affected by heavy traffic and flooding. Gypsum can also be used to remove excess sodium from the soil. Additional benefits of Gypsum are reducing crusting, improved drainage, erosion control, and better seedling emergence.

Perlite Soil Amendment
Perlite is used to improve soil structure as opposed to providing nutrients. It is very useful in lawns with poor drainage. It is mined from volcanic rock and then superheated until it expands and turns white. It has a porous surface that holds water and nutrients but still allows excess water to drain away. This prevents soil from becoming waterlogged which, in turn, prevents root rot. It also provides aeration.

Vermiculite Soil Amendment
Vermiculite is made from hydrated laminar materials that take on the appearance of mica. It does not deteriorate or rot, it is mold resistant, odorless, sterile, and nontoxic. Vermiculite improves moisture retention in soil as well as aerating it. This allows for rapid plant root growth. It also improves the absorption of minerals such as potassium, ammonium, magnesium, and calcium in the soil. Many potting soil producers use Vermiculite in their mixes because of its ability to retain moisture.

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