Soil 101

When building any structure, we all know the importance of a strong foundation. The same principle applies to “building” a garden, only here soil is your foundation. Without proper soil preparation, your garden is doomed before you even begin, so take a few minutes to explore the basics of starting your garden off right!

Soil is comprised of three basic ingredients: clay, sand and silt. In the Charlotte area, we can all attest to the fact that clay is the predominant ingredient and while many of us bemoan our clay soil, clay in and of itself is not a bad thing. Clay contains nutrients and helps by retaining water and holding the soil together. However, too much clay causes the soil to retain too much water and makes it stick together to the point that you can’t insert a spade!

For this reason, you’ll need to amend your soil to give your plants’ roots an easy place to stretch out and grow. The do-it-yourselfer can get out his roto-tiller and till in some coarse sand to help loosen up the clay and allow for better drainage, and then mix in organic material, such as compost, to provide plants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth.

Finding the right combination of these components is important and varies based on the type of soil in your yard. Simple soil tests that can be purchased at garden supply stores or obtained from the Mecklenburg County Extension Agency will tell you what you need to do to amend your specific soil.

For those who prefer to take the guesswork out of soil amendment, SiteOne Hardscape Centers have developed Garden Max – a blended topsoil that has been researched to provide the right mixture of topsoil, sand and compost for growing conditions in the Charlotte region. One product incorporates all the necessary ingredients in the right proportions! Garden Max has been given the seal of approval of everyone from the City of Charlotte to local contractors and Master Gardeners.

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