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Author: admin, 01.05.2016. Category: Garden Soil

A CONSTRUCTION firm has donated 20 tonnes of topsoil to help landscape a community garden in Sheffield. VINCI Construction UK worked with Worrall Community Association on the project for The Memorial Hall on Towngate Road, Worrall. The firm worked provided and delivered the soil, which will be landscaped and seeded by payback volunteers. Dr Mary Cooke, association chairman, said: “We appreciate VINCI Construction UK helped us achieve our latest goal of being able to landscape the Memorial Hall garden. There are many factors determining the most suitable type of garden soil for an alpine rockery garden.
Where the rock garden is started from scratch, you should choose the soil mix best suited to the needs of the plants you want to grow.
If the site already exists, it may well be necessary to introduce a soil mixture nearer to the requirements of the plants desired. Lawns, pavements and rock gardens built on level ground are amenable to such changes but if the site is on a slope, it will be difficult to prevent the erosion of one type of soil into another.
If an acid soil is being introduced into a flat limestone garden, gently mound the existing soil upwards towards the centre of the site. This will prevent stagnation and drainage problems, as well as stopping lime reaching the introduced acid soil.
If a lime soil is being built over an already acid garden, there is no need for mounding or for a liner because lime will not do much harm to acid soil. The soil mixtures already mentioned contain three main ingredients: humus, grit or shingle, and loam.
In a shady spot the mixture should contain up to 50% humus combined with equal parts of grit or shingle, and loam.
In a more sunny and open setting reduce the humus content by about 25% and mix it with equal amounts of the other ingredients. Again, the depth varies according to the natural underlying soils; the better the drainage, the shallower the top layer can be, but it must never be less than 15cm (6”). Their presence in a garden soil mixture enables effective drainage: the coarser the grains, the better the drainage. An excess of lime in the soil will cause the leaves of acid-loving plants to turn yellow, a condition known as ’chlorosis’. In general, however, it is far better and easier to grow plants in their natural soil-types. A standard scale, known as the pH scale, is used to measure the relative acidity of many substances including soil. Simple soil-testing kits can be bought in a gardening shop and by following the manufacturers instructions, you can discover the type of soil in your garden, and stock it accordingly.

As a double check, look at the plants growing near where you live, for instance, if Rhododendrons, Azaleas or heathers are thriving, the soil is acidic. As defined by the Soil Science Society of America soil is a “complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and organisms, which form at the surface of land.” In other words, soil is the thin outermost layer of the Earth’s crust that forms the basis for existence of life on this planet.
Soil is a precious resource, and we can all do our part to ensure that healthy soil is part of the legacy we leave for future generations. Understanding soil quality is very important – it is our single best indicator of sustainable land management. Promoting plant, animal, and human health (ie: promoting plant resistance to diseases and pests, breaking down toxins, and decomposing waste products). Bare soil in pastures, paddocks, and driveways is quickly lost as water moves across the surface. In the summer months, bare dry soil is easily carried from your farm to your neighbor’s with the wind. Compaction damages the natural soil structure and delicate plant roots struggle to grow through hard and compacted soil.
Repeated tillage can break-down the natural soil structure that is so important for healthy roots and soil microbes. Plants remove nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium from the soil as they grow. Soil organic matter is made up of plant and animal materials in various stages of decomposition (manure, compost, dead and decomposing plants and insects, etc.).
Most soils in western Washington are acidic due to the climate and the fact that many of the areas we use for gardens and pastures were originally forested.
Blending a combination of Compost and Manure through this soil adds well needed substance to garden or lawn areas.
Cultivate your knowledge by viewing the articles, publications and tutorials written by our horticultural specialists.
Use a 1000 gauge black plastic liner to cover an area slightly larger than the proposed extent of the site including the mound. Their proportions mainly depend on the amount of light received in the garden and its local climate. The proportions must also be varied according to the windiness of the site: with higher rainfall and less wind on a site, more shingle or grit mill be needed to give better drainage, and vice versa. An ideal loam is the layer of soil immediately below meadow grass; the grass roots give it a fibrous texture and being neither sand nor clay it can be easily crumbled in the hands.
If the grains are large enough and in sufficient quantity they will hold some moisture underneath, be able to maintain many plants and there will be no danger of over-watering. Similarly, acid-loving plants can be grown on many kinds of limestone but not those which release free lime into the soil, as it will inhibit their growth.

This is easily remedied by watering the soil around the bases of the affected plants with a solution made from sequestrene granules dissolved in water. It is relevant here to examine what the words ’acidic’ and ’limey’ mean in practical terms to a rock gardener. Though not a totally reliable test, because variations can occur over very short distances, it will give you a rough idea of your garden soil.
Like our own skin, we can’t live without the soil but at the same time we often take it for granted!
Water moves across the surface of compacted soils instead of filtering down through the soil and into groundwater. Consider reducing or eliminating the roto-tiller from your gardening routine, and keep the soil protected with mulches and cover crops.
While soil organic matter makes up only about 5% of the total soil, it plays a very important role in soil quality! Soil is a valuable asset on the farm, but quickly becomes a pollutant when it gets in the water! Plants depend on roots to draw nutrients from the soil and when root growth is restricted, access to nutrients is restricted.
This increases the chances of flooding, standing water, and pollution of to streams and rivers.
A soil high in organic matter is more resistant to damage and recovers more quickly from tillage and compaction, and contamination from herbicides or other toxins. Most pasture grasses and agricultural crops thrive in near neutral soils (pH ~ 6 to 7.5), and certain nutrients like iron and phosphorus are less available to plants in very acidic or alkaline soils. Overgrazed pastures are often suffering from compaction and weeds are much more competitive than pasture grasses in compacted soils. Adding compost, manure, or fertilizers back to the soil is important to keep the soil healthy and the plants growing.
Lime can be used to raise the pH of acidic soils and add calcium (an essential plant nutrient). By allowing overgrazing of pastures, you are increasing the weed pressure and putting grasses at a disadvantage. Most pastures in Snohomish County benefit from yearly applications of 1-2 tons of lime per acre.  For more information, see Soil Fertility.

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