Soil Amendment

This page discusses using a soil amendment as mulch for weed control and...

..the purpose of these to amend garden soil and flowers, trees and plants. These can be a good - or not!

The Purpose:

Amendments serve two purposes:

  • Depending on type, it can be used as a mulch.
  • To amend garden soil.

An amendment is anything added to soil that improves structure, texture and porosity which allows for better drainage. In short, it improves soil quality. Technically, composts fall under this category.

Fertilizers, on the other hand, are designed to feed the plants, not the soil. Composts are mild fertilizers that can also be effective in soil. A Soil Conditioner is two or more combinations of any soil amendments. Amendments, composts and conditioners are preferred over fertilizers.

To improve dirt quality along with plant nutrition these additives need to be worked in several inches. Micro-organisms promote earthworms along with micro-nutrients. After the nutrient value has dissipated what is left is organic matter. 

  • Water and nutrient holding capacity of soil can increase.
  • Can improve the tilth of good soil.
  • Can lighten clay soil.

When used as a garden mulch, amendments are placed on the top of soil prohibiting sunlight exposure to reach weed seeds. This is done to prohibit possible weed germination along with weed growth.

The Negatives:

Some studies have concluded planting without amendments and fertilizers out perform plantings where they were used.

  • Adding these trace elements makes soil more porous. Trees, plants and flowers have sensitive root hairs which are key to the plants survival. If there are excessive rain or watering applications these roots can drown because the air pockets allowed for water to sit.

  • When transplanting any flower, plant or tree from the potted environment it will go through a stage of shock, which is common for vegetation to go through. These plants need to adapt in order to survive, especially if your soil is clay.

    If placed into an environment with many additives, studies have shown that the roots circle around within the amended soil nutrients only rather than branching out into surrounded soil.

Left to grow in these environments, roots become lazy because 'easy food' is always present. If root systems are not able to get 'footed' properly and spread out wide, bad weather can uproot and more easily blow trees, shrubs and flowers over.

Amendments added to sandy soil adapts a little better. There are still the same vulnerabilities, however, as listed above.

Experiment around and don't be surprised if you find you prefer growing your plants in the native, unamended soil environments.

If plant leaves are discolored it is highly recommended to use fertilizer in this case. It doesn't end here, however. This indicates that there may be a nutrient or mineral deficiency. Yes, amendments do also include lime for acidity and sulfur for alkalinity in dirt. I would recommend learning about pH and different soil testing methods.

Related Articles:

Organic Mulch Types - This list includes Mulch only and Soil Amendments that can be used as Mulch.

Inorganic Mulch Types - A list of inorganic mulch, including solarizing black plastic mulch.

Back from Soil Amendment to How to Kill Weeds

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