Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH LIVING and MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-456-6018 or by email. Stay safe!

Garden Soil Problems and Solutions

Read about different garden soil problems and how to fix them, from aerating compacted soil to dealing with waterlogged ground.

| May 2012 Web

  • Don’t plant in compacted soil. If you’d like to plant an area later but need to use it or walk over it for a while, lay down and travel over boards, which will redistribute your weight more evenly and tend to mitigate soil compaction.
    Photo Courtesy Timber Press
  • Make it your standard practice to improve soil before adding any plant at any time.
    Photo Courtesy Timber Press
  • Plant moisture-loving plants in an area with waterlogged soil. Among annuals, this includes angelonia, impatiens, and even pansies.
    Photo Courtesy Timber Press
  • Organized by common garden topics and designed to be easily dipped in and out of, “The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers” offers nuggets of wisdom based on author Teri Dunn Chace’s years of hands-on gardening experience. Advice is humorously supported by Colleen Coover’s delightful illustrations.
    Photo Courtesy Timber Press
  • Turning over the soil every spring is a popular garden ritual, so entrenched that few gardeners ever question it. But it’s also hard work, especially tough on your back, and it can be distressing to watch what often follows—a weed explosion.
    Photo Courtesy Timber Press

Every gardener faces a range of common garden soil problems. Depending on your region, you may face stubborn, compacted soil or a spot in your yard with waterlogged soil. You may have been overzealous and tilled too much, or prepared your soil incorrectly. The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers (Timber Press, 2012) identifies the 100 most common gardening mistakes and gives gardeners the techniques to prevent them. This gardening guide tackles every kind of gardening disaster, whether it has to do with plants, tools and techniques, or general care and maintenance. Learn solutions for a variety of garden soil problems in this excerpt taken from the chapter “Soil: Respect and Work With Your Garden’s Foundation, and Avoid Many Heartaches.” 

Trying to Garden in Compacted Garden Soil

You might have suspected something was amiss when you dug to install new plants, and the shovel or trowel had a hard time penetrating. Or you might suspect compacted soil if water runs right off or sinks in slowly, indicating there are few available air spaces, either because of parched ground or extremely saturated soil. Neither environment is good for most plants. Their roots will struggle for moisture, oxygen, and nutrients, and will show their distress aboveground by slumping, failing to produce new growth or flowers or fruit, browning and drying, and eventually keeling over.

The Right Way to Do It
Some parts of your yard are inevitably going to have compacted soil, unless you are willing and able to make necessary changes to improve or shield them. Trafficked areas, such as paths, always get beaten down as people and pets repeatedly walk over them, but frequent passages by a garden cart, a wheelbarrow, bicycles, and small tractors will also contribute to the problem. A location where heavy objects, such as cars and trash bins, are kept is bound to have dense, compacted, unfriendly soil.

The answer is easy: designate some areas for traffic, and others for plants. And the obvious corollary? Don’t plant in compacted soil. If you’d like to plant an area later but need to use it or walk over it for a while, lay down and travel over boards, which will redistribute your weight more evenly and tend to mitigate soil compaction.

If I Goofed, Can I Fix It?
Plant rescue may be possible. Remove the struggling plants, replant them in a more hospitable location, and hope they recover and begin to thrive in their new home.

Alternatively, remove the beleaguered plants temporarily, loosen the soil and mix in some good decomposed organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility, and return them to these improved growing conditions. Rope, fence off, or define the area with edging, route traffic around or away from the area, or otherwise prevent future compaction.

Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me