and How to Use Them to Improve Your Northeast Florida Soils
Two Types of Soil Amendments
Organic amendments are composed
of the decaying remains of animals and plants. Organic soil amendments are better known to you and I as compost,
humus, peat moss, shredded bark, sawdust and leaf mold. They consist completely of materials that were once
produced by living organisms. All organic amendments are natures “miracle cure all’s” and are commonly used
in both sandy and clay soils to improve both the water and nutrient retention qualities of sandy soils as well
as help aerate compacted soils and improve drainage of heavy clay soils.
Organic matter in the
soil is also a very important energy source for bacteria, fungi, beetles, earthworms, anthropods and
other organisms that live in the soil.
You guessed it, inorganic
amendments are just the opposite, they are the “never have been alive” or not carbon based soil
amendments. Inorganic soil amendments are either mined, or man made.
They include pearlite, vermiculite, gypsum, lime, colloidal
phosphate, and sulfur.
Why are soil amendments important in Northeast Florida's Soils?
1- Organic matter can occupy as much as 50 percent of the soil structure in more temperate regions of the
United States, and as much as 90 percent in muck soils. Here in Florida, in our subtropical and tropical sandy
soils, organic material can make up as little as 1-3 percent of the total soil components. Adding organic material
to the soil improves the soil structure allowing your new plant material access to vital nutrients as well as
improving soil aeration and drainage.
2- Construction alters the natural soil structures that have naturally been created over long periods of
time. Somewhere near 90 percent of Floridians live in these altered by construction, urban areas. Urban
soils, created in the process of construction by land clearing and property filling, in general become more
compacted, less acidic, and can have lower nutrient concentrations. That can present the homeowner with a few
challenges that soil amendments can solve for you in the Northeast Florida landscape.
3- Our warm and moist subtropical climate here in Northeast Florida, where the soils never freeze
over and microorganisms never stop working! The warmer climate here both increases the decomposition rates and
microbial activity in the soil, which means that the available organic matter occurring naturally or added as
amendments breaks down quickly. Incorporating natural practices of leaving the organic materials created
in our home landscapes, like grass clippings, plant trimmings, or leaves in the landscape and allowing them to
degrade naturally over time can help build organic material back into the soils.
Adding both organic and inorganic materials into planting beds can quickly alleviate many challenges faced by
Northeast Florida gardeners. Amendments can help your soil maintain a proper PH level, keep a supply of needed
nutrients available to plant roots for absorption, ease the passage of water through soils, decrease the
effect of soil erosion, improve soil aeration and much more.
Here is a list of the more common soil ammendments and the challenges that they can help with in the
landscape. Hope it helps!
Composted Cow Manure
Composted Chicken Manure
Pine bark fines
Now that you have conquered soil amendments and how to properly apply
them; for other common issues to the North Florida | Jacksonville |
St. Augustine landscape, check out our
Sod Q @ A page