So, you’ve been meaning to improve your garden’s soil. But what if we told you that it’s not too late? Soil maintenance is an important element in landscape maintenance that just can’t be ignored. In fact, now is the perfect time to make some changes in the ground beneath your feet. With just a few simple steps this winter, you’ll be able to give your plants and landscape the best possible start when spring comes around again.
How To Improve Your Garden’s Soil:
Test your soil
One way you can improve your garden’s soil is to test it. It’s important that your soil has the right balance of nutrients and pH levels otherwise things just won’t grow as well as they could. Soil testing kits are available at most garden centers, and they’re easy to use. Simply collect a sample of soil from various areas of your yard, mix it together in a tub or bucket, and then send off the sample so it can be analyzed by a lab. The results will tell you exactly which nutrients are lacking—and provide instructions on how much fertilizer should be added and where. It is recommended to retest every 3 to 5 years at a minimum.
Composting is a great way to improve your garden’s soil, and it’s easy to make at home. You can purchase compost online or at most garden centers. If you have the space and time, consider building your own compost pile or bin. Compost is a mixture of decaying organic matter, like leaves and grass clippings. Some people even use fruit rinds or leftover coffee grounds as well. It’s great for improving the soil in your garden because it provides nutrients for plants and helps loosen compacted dirt.
Plant a cover crop
Planting cover crops is one of the best ways to improve your soil. Not only does it prevent soil erosion, but it also facilitates a great habitat for microorganisms to grow which is great for the soil’s nutrient ecosystem. However, it can seem to be daunting for beginners. Here are some tips to ensure you do it right:
- Make sure your soil is as nutrient-packed as possible. This means removing all weeds, adding compost and/or manure (if your soil is low in organic matter), and adding lime if necessary.
- Choose a cover crop that grows well in the greater Pittsburgh area. Some options include red clover, wheat, and rye.
- Plant seeds at least three weeks before planting time so they’ll have time to grow and develop into large plants before winter sets in.
Once Spring rolls around, you’ll be able to turn the cover crop into your soil and it will create a very rich soil full of nutrients!
Perhaps you’re not wanting to do a cover crop, that’s totally fine. You could also go with some good-quality mulch. Mulches are used as a weed suppressant and an insulating blanket to protect the soil from frost. They also stop water evaporation and help control pests. Mulches can be organic or artificial materials like plastic sheeting. Organic mulches include hay, straw, bark chippings, pebbles, or old leaves that have been composted for at least six months before application. Artificial mulches include black polythene sheeting or clear plastic mulch film — both of which kill weeds by blocking out light so they die off gradually without harming plants beneath them.
So there you have it! Four ways to improve your garden’s soil and make sure your garden is ready for spring. You may not be able to see the results of these steps yet, but trust us—they will be worth it when you do. The best part about gardening is that no matter what kind of soil you have, it’s never too late or too early to start improving it. If you need more help with getting your garden ready for Winter, be sure to get in touch with the team at Eichenlaub.