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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

Why Soil Health Matters To Your Trees

When looking at our landscapes, our first focus is those trees, shrubs, and other plants we use to design a pleasing green palette. What’s most important in designing a landscape, however, is your soil. Soil has the biggest impact on your landscape and its overall health.

Keeping your trees and landscape healthy starts with soil care. Learning what healthy soil is as well as ways to manage and improve poor soil conditions will do wonders for your home and property.

More Than Just Dirt!

Soil is so much more than dirt. Soil contains complex, living organisms vital to our planet’s ecosystem, landscapes, and lives. Healthy, bio-efficient soil is often the result of a combination of good geologic history and careful care. Even poor soils stand a chance if they are treated with tender loving care.

What Is Soil, Anyway?

Soil is a mixture of several natural compounds, including:

  • Minerals–years of eroded rock formations become sand, silt, and clay

  • Air molecules

  • Water

  • Organic matter from years of decayed animal and plant material

Some soil may be nearly a billion years old, while other samples go back a mere thousand years or more; it largely depends on the geographical area in which they developed and the organic history that took place on that land. Areas with glacial movement are notorious for stripping away nutritious topsoil, while riverbanks and lake beds are rich in organic soil compounds that make conditions for plant growth and development ideal. Depending on your geographical location, you may find yourself with one of these extremes, or you may have a soil situation requiring a little care to yield optimal results.

Different Types Of Soil

Soils are typically classified as silty, sandy, or clay, with various combinations that fall into two or more categories. Percentages of these materials comprise a soil’s texture. Within the peds, or clumps, of organic material, other living compounds such as fungi, bacteria, and organisms add to the “living soil,” helping to sustain plant and tree life.

Soil devoid of minerals, organic matter, and living enzymes is classified as “barren” or “bad” soil. This type of soil will not sustain plant or tree life, and attempting to build upon this structure is almost a surefire way to kill plant life.

Can Bad Soil Be Made “Good”?

While the texture of soil cannot be changed, its structure can be significantly altered. Compacted soil is impervious to water and air and will not sustain plant life. Neither will soil that has separated; its tiny clay particles will clog spaces that used to hold air, water, and vital nutrients. Soil becomes stripped and overworked through:

  • Excessive cultivating and tilling

  • Digging in wet soil

  • Death of microorganisms

  • Compaction and puddling from excessive traffic and heavy machinery

A reliance on fast-acting, chemical fertilizers also significantly alters the natural structure of soil, making it dependent on artificial means of sustaining growth. This will push your soil to exhaustion if used regularly.

Steps For Improving Soil Health

With the proper steps, soil health can again be restored to a point where it sustains plant and tree growth. Depending on the starting condition of your soil, you may have to diligently apply these principles a bit longer. The benefits you stand to gain, however, are worth all the time and effort that you put into the process. Follow these steps to improve and maintain your soil’s health.

  1. Limit soil disturbance from tilling and cultivating

  2. Leave naturally occurring soil “peds” in place

  3. Do not mess with wet or saturated soil

  4. Add to soil with organic matter, not chemical fertilizers

These tried-and-true practices will strengthen soil’s structure by supporting its own biological processes.

Calling Your Neighborhood Arborist!

An arborist knows all aspects of landscape and tree care, and that includes learning about the importance of soil health! Hiring a professional arborist is the way to go if you have questions about your landscape and trees. Invest in your landscape and property as you see what Sarasota Tree Service offers. Contact us today for a landscape assessment, and see how a healthy landscape adds value to your home and property. Visit for more information.

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