When I asked my neighbor why her plants grow better than mine she said it is because she has improved her soil. Can you give me suggestions how I can improve my soil?
I have been gardening for more than 60 years, and I have come to the conclusion that the greatest single ingredient in landscape success is soil improvement with organic matter. It is an investment that pays dividends forever. Some types of organic matter last longer than others but they are all very helpful. No matter what kind of soil you have, organic matter will improve it.
Organic particles create air space in heavy clay soil so water and air can enter and flow through the soil more easily. As organic matter is used as food by soil microorganisms they leave a sticky substance that causes the small clay particles to stick together and become larger granules. Organic particles hold onto moisture. They also hold onto fertilizer nutrients so they don’t wash out before plant roots can pick them up.
For a new home owner, I would recommend incorporating a 4-inch layer of bark dust into the entire landscape before planting anything. In an established landscape, I would incorporate organic matter whenever I add new plants. Then I would recommend applying 1 1/2 to 2 inches of organic matter once a year.
You can provide a lot of organic matter from your own landscape by using grass clippings, leaves, trimmings and a lot of your own household waste. Some of these materials can be applied directly or they can be saved in a compost area for later application.