57January 23, 2013

“ It’s the soil.” During the many years I have been in lawn and garden, that phrase is probably one of the most commonly used answers to problems that have occurred in people’s lawns and or gardens. Let me explain why “ It’s the soil” is often the answer.

During the spring, I will get many people in the store who have had a problem lawn for many years. The customer will seed the lawn, keep it watered and fertilized and the grass will grow, but by summer, the grass is starting to fade out and by the following spring, the customer is starting all over again. When this occurs, I will ask a lot of questions to try to find out what is going wrong with the lawn. I will ask about insects. They have no insect problems. They have kept up with watering the lawn, fertilizing the lawn, applying lime to the lawn. The next question I ask is “ How much loam do you have in your lawn? “ Most people have no idea how much loam there is under there grass. I then ask them to take a shovel and dig out a 6-inch deep sample of soil and bring that sample into the store. When I take a look at the soil, there is usually 2 inches of loam and the rest of the soil is either sand or clay. In order to grow a lawn that will thrive, you need at least 6 inches of quality loam. If you don’t have that much loam, your grass is not going to thrive. As much of a pain as it will be, the solution to that lawn is to dig up the grass and either remove the soil down 6 inches and then fill back in with 6 inches of loam, or to dig up the grass and apply 6 inches of loam on top of the existing soil. This is not an easy chore, but ultimately, it is the only solution to a problem lawn.

Another problem that occurs is with trying to grow plants in containers. The customer will have window boxes or other containers that contain plants that will not grow. When I ask them what type of soil they use to fill the containers, they often tell me it is soil that they have dug up from there yard. So often this soil contains either sand or clay and the soil isn’t appropriate for use in containers. The type of soil that must be used in containers is a good quality potting soil. Using a good quality potting soil allows the plants to develop a strong root system, which in turn allows the plants to grow and to thrive.

When spring finally rolls around, think about any problem areas you have in your yard. Take some time to check out the soil and determine if the soil is of a poor quality or look to see if there is enough depth of quality soil. If the soil is the problem, make a spring resolution to fix that soil before you begin the growing season.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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