Fall Soil Amendments

Fall Soil Amendments

At this time of year Mother Nature is busy amending soils. The leaves of deciduous plants and the needles of many pines fall onto the ground where they will begin the process of breaking down and enriching the soil. When homeowners have areas where such leaves can be left in place, they can leave the fertilizing and soil amendment to these natural processes.

In most yards and gardens, however, we clear the leaves and other plant debris up, removing it in our fall cleanup. When this is the case our lawns and flowerbeds can benefit from the addition of organic matter, and fall is a great time to apply such amendments to the landscape.

Compost, available in bulk quantities or in bags, can be placed over the surface of lawns and gardens in the fall. Scatter it with a shovel over turf grass, applying slightly heavier amounts on bare areas. Spread to two inches on the surface of the soil around established perennials and shrubs. This can be put right over the remains of last spring’s mulch layer as long as that isn’t very thick. In the spring apply an organic fertiliser on top of the compost. Follow this with a new layer of an inch or two of bark mulch, mimicking Nature’s way of amending soils from the top down.

Why is it important to periodically add compost or other organics to our landscapes? Because that is the way Nature has designed the system that keeps the soil and the plants growing there healthy. The compost you spread this fall will support the soil biology (beneficial bacteria and fungi), help hold moisture near your plant’s roots, and supply nutrients for the growing season ahead.

This is an application of compost spread on a lawn in the fall. After a couple of good rainfalls the compost will have worked into the turf and will no longer be very visible. Next spring this compost will support renewed growth in the lawn.
In the fall it’s easy to see how Mother Nature improves her soils. But most homeowners clean up the leaves that fall on their gardens and lawns, so adding organic material back can be important.
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