How do I know if my soil is compacted?

If you want to grow excellent vegetation on your property, you should be aware of the quality of your soil. Some soil types would be better for use during gardening or landscaping while others would make it more difficult to grow a lush lawn. One of the things that may hinder you from having a beautiful and green garden is compacted soil.

Soil compaction is usually the result of years of foot traffic or after the use of heavy machinery during a construction project. Since the soil’s particles are too close to each other, the process of water, air, and nutrient transport is stunted and can lead to the suffocation or drowning of your plant’s roots. Hence, before starting to plan your landscaping project, it would be best for you to determine the quality of your soil.

The most common signs that show you have compacted soil

You will know that you have compacted soil if:

1.     It is hard for you to dig into the soil

Want to see the state of your dirt to check if it is dense? Try using a shovel or trowel and place its tip into the soil. After doing this, apply pressure to push the tool on the bottom of the soil and then use an upward motion to get it out of the ground. How much pressure did you have to exert to get some soil? If it took you a lot of time and energy to do this, then it is an indication that the soil in your property is too compressed.

2.     The existing plants in your area are stunted

Look around the plants on your lawn. Do they look healthy and lush? Or are they small and appear weak? In situations where your greens appear yellowish instead, this is also a sign that the soil you are using is too tightly packed. If you remember, compact soils also indicate dense particles. This makes it difficult for your plants to get the nutrients they need as they will likely get trapped or logged into the dirt instead.

3.     Plant growth takes a longer time than necessary

Another impact of dense soil for plants has something to do with their growth. According to many studies, plants that are placed in compact soils grow slower than those that are able to the nutrients, water, and air they require faster. Because of the hardness of the material, the vegetation in your area will have to work twice harder for them to survive.

4.     There are puddles of standing water around the area

Do you see water pooling around your property that will usually stay that way for a few days? Unfortunately, this is also an indicator of tightly packed soil. This happens because the more compact the soil is, the more difficult it will be for it to allow the water into its surface. Because of this situation, draining water into hard soil takes a longer time, hence, the presence of unwanted water puddles.

5.     There are bald spots on your property

Lastly, another sign of compacted soil is when you see bare or bald spots scattered around your lawn. This is usually the case when the vegetation is not able to grow in a particular area due to the soil’s condition. Since compact soil is not usually good for plant growth, it will be challenging to keep your lawn green unless you address the issue.

Will grass grow on compacted soil?

Growing grass using compacted soil is difficult, but it is not impossible. If you have the patience, time, and resources to do so, your efforts will eventually pay off in the long run. One of the best methods you can do to ensure grass growth is by amending your soil first.

Tips to grow grass on hard soil

1.     Assess your soil’s condition first

Inspecting the quality of your soil allows you to increase your chances of success. You can do this by collecting a sample of the material and sending it to a qualified laboratory for testing.

2.     Choose a technique to loosen the soil

There are many methods you can do to decompress your soil. When applicable, you can ask a professional for help if you want to save time and resources. Just make sure to avoid the tilling technique when your soil is too dry or too wet or it will not do anything to solve the problem.

3.     Choose the right type of grass

Depending on the condition of the soil you have, you should also factor in this information when choosing the type of grass you will plant on your lawn. This is because some grass will have a better chance of survival in firm soil while others will need more maintenance to do so.

4.     Apply mulch

As much as possible, apply mulch or an organic material of your choice on top of your new grass to keep it hydrated. This will increase its chances of growth and allow it to grow enough roots to keep itself alive and thriving.

How do you soften hard soil?

There are several methods experts recommend doing to soften dense soil. It can be as simple as adding a bit of water to its surface, adding gypsum or other organic material, using an aerator, or using a tilling technique. The method you should choose will depend on how dense and how big your area is.

As an example, it would be unwise and expensive to use an aerator if your soil is not that dense. For this situation, adding organic matter into the soil may be your best bet. However, if you have extremely hard soil in a big area, choosing to aerate or till may be better.