How to Make Soil Improvements In Established Plant Bed
The ideal time to make soil improvements is at the onset of installing a flower garden or a garden bed, this makes it easier to work in soil amendments (before plants are installed). But what if your garden is already established and it’s discovered that the soil needs to be improved to ensure that your plants continue to grow healthy? How do you make these improvements? the good news is a garden bed that is established can still have soil improvements done whether you’re growing flowers, herbs, or vegetable garden growing ornamental plants or fruit trees, soil improvements can make a huge difference to the growth and health of plant life.
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The 6 Best Methods to Amend Soil Around Existing Plants
1. A soil test
A good place to begin when deciding to amend your garden soil is to start with a soil pH test (preference). This test will reveal what nutrients are missing so you can make those improvements. There are home pH soil test kits that can be purchased for you to do the test yourself, or if you prefer contact your local county’s extension office to find out more about the procedure that’s involved including pricing.
If there is no mulch in place then you can go ahead and begin to amend the soil but if mulch is already in place then remove it by raking into a pile or heap out of the garden bed and set aside. Once the soil has been amended the mulch can be return
The Best Soil Amendment Methods
1. Top Dressing Plant Beds
This method involves adding about 2 inches of compost to the soil’s surfaces, this practice can be done each year, once the compost is added lightly rake to create an even or level surface. Over time the compost will break down working its way in the soil. Compost will not only supply the needed nutrients but will add soil microbes as well that are beneficial to plant life. Compost can also improve the soil’s structure, once the compost is placed it can be mixed with the garden soil with a handheld garden fork.
2. The Use of Ground Cover Crops
The method of using ground cover crops is popular for large areas such as agricultural sites, once the seeds germinate and reach a certain height are recycled back into the soil by turning over with a large machine. This method can also be used in a home garden, sow seeds around existing plants during the fall months, and the following spring be very careful, and turn the cover crops into the soil with a spade shovel, hand trowel, or a garden hoe. The cover crop will enrich the soil by adding nutrients.
3. Aged Animal Manure
Aged animal manure such as bat droppings, rabbit, goat, chicken, sheep, cow, or horse manure is natural organic that offers great benefits both to your garden plants and soil. Fresh manure is too hot so allow it to age for a few months or even a year depending on the amount of manure that’s to be used. Sometimes animal manure can become contaminated because of pesticides that may have been used. Before purchasing manure find out first if animals did not graze on hay that was treated with pesticides or even herbicides.
4. Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is another effective method to maintain soil structure, planting crops or rotating crops in different parts of your garden each year will discourage the depletion of nutrients along with interrupting the cycle of diseases and pests which encourages healthy garden soil.
5. Adding Organic Matter such as Mulch
If the mulch is old and must be replenished then, by all means, do so but if the mulch is still good return to the plant bed once the soil amendments are finished. Mulches serve so many purposes, mulches discourage weeds, retain moisture for garden plants, can help to adjust the soil’s pH, can help to keep the top few inches of soil cool, and as mulches degrade or break down will add nutrients to the garden soil and will encourage microbial activity.
The addition of fertilizers is a popular proven method that’s used to make soil improvements, established plants can be fertilized with granulated organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are made from natural materials such as plant parts and are very beneficial for plant life.
1. If you don’t have compost then the use of well-rotten manure or shredded leaves can work just as well.
2. There are some plants that will add nutrients to the soil which I believe is a big win for you.
The final word on the best method to amend soil around existing plants
Soil amendments are a great way to supply nutrients to garden plants while helping to improve the soil’s structure, this method is used by many homeowners and on a wider scale because of the benefits. So if your plants have lost their luster and look a bit tired may be a soil condition although there may be other conditions that may be affecting your plants. This guide however will help you along the way way ensuring that your garden plants perform their best because if you would hope to reap a good harvest then do what’s need to ensure that your plants go to work for you.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.