What Are Unique Techniques to Improve Soil Health in Landscape Design?


    What Are Unique Techniques to Improve Soil Health in Landscape Design?

    In the quest for lush landscapes, professionals often turn to tried-and-true methods, but sometimes the most effective techniques are lesser-known. An arborist begins our exploration with a unique approach to enhancing soil fertility using biochar, and alongside insights from other industry leaders, we've gathered additional answers that shed light on unconventional methods. From no-till gardening to rotational grazing, discover a spectrum of strategies that promote vibrant soil health.

    • Enhance Soil Fertility with Biochar
    • Boost Soil Microbes with Organic Material
    • Fertilize with Manure and Worm Castings
    • Preserve Soil Structure with No-Till Gardening
    • Conserve Water with Xeriscaping
    • Promote Health with Companion Planting
    • Improve Soil with Cover Cropping

    Enhance Soil Fertility with Biochar

    Biochar is a specialized type of charcoal added to soil to enhance its fertility, produced by burning organic material in a low-oxygen environment. It enhances nutrient retention by trapping water and nutrients, thanks to its high porosity. This porosity also provides a habitat for beneficial soil microbes, which are essential for nutrient cycling and disease suppression. By improving soil structure, biochar promotes better aeration and reduces soil compaction, aiding root growth.

    Additionally, it can help moderate soil pH levels, making the environment more favorable for plant growth. Biochar also contributes to carbon sequestration, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. However, the effects of biochar can vary, so it's recommended to start with small applications and assess the impact on soil and plant health before wider use.

    Dylan Heath
    Dylan HeathArborist, Apex Arborists

    Boost Soil Microbes with Organic Material

    I recommend adding Carbon Pro/Organic Material to your soil to help ensure it has enough beneficial bacteria and microbes. This is definitely beneficial to newer developments and housing where the soil is more clay-based.

    Taylor Olberding
    Taylor OlberdingCo-Founder, Heroes Lawn Care

    Fertilize with Manure and Worm Castings

    We use a combination of chicken manure and worm castings to fertilize our plants. This natural fertilizer not only improves the quality of the soil, but also promotes the healthy growth of anything that we plant. We have successfully grown a variety of fruiting trees, ornamental shrubs, native perennials, woody ferns, and even vegetables in this ultra-rich soil. It is a highly sustainable and cost-effective alternative to expensive fertilizers.

    Tammy Sons
    Tammy SonsCEO, TN Nursery

    Preserve Soil Structure with No-Till Gardening

    Introducing no-till garden layouts can significantly contribute to the health of the soil by reducing compaction and maintaining the integrity of the soil structure. This technique allows for the preservation of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, which are crucial for nutrient cycling. Soil that is not disturbed often retains moisture better and has less weed growth, meaning fewer chemicals are required for maintenance.

    The undisturbed layers of the earth serve as a natural habitat for various insects that are essential for pollination. Explore the possibility of transitioning to a no-till layout in your garden to support a thriving ecosystem beneath your feet.

    Conserve Water with Xeriscaping

    Employing xeriscaping in landscape design involves using plants that are native to the area, and therefore adapted to the local climate conditions, reducing the need for supplemental water and minimizing soil erosion. These plants have evolved over time to thrive in their natural habitats, making them more resistant to pests and diseases endemic to the region. Additionally, they require less fertilizer and fewer pest control measures, reducing the amount of chemicals introduced into the environment.

    Xeriscaping also offers a diverse array of options that can add beauty and functionality to a landscape while conserving precious water resources. Consider using native plants to help conserve water and maintain healthy soil in your outdoor space.

    Promote Health with Companion Planting

    Companion planting as a natural way to enhance your garden's health, by placing plants together that can mutually benefit from each other's presence. For instance, some plants can release certain chemicals from their roots or leaves that repel pests, thereby protecting nearby plants. This biodiversity can lead to a robust ecosystem that naturally deters pests without the need for synthetic insecticides.

    Companion planting also promotes a balance of nutrients in the soil, as different plant species absorb and deposit varying nutrients. Start integrating companion plants in your landscaping plans to foster a healthier and more self-sustaining garden environment.

    Improve Soil with Cover Cropping

    Incorporating continuous cover cropping involves planting certain crops that are meant to cover the soil, rather than for harvest, which can significantly improve soil health. The roots of these cover crops help to prevent soil erosion and loss of nutrients, especially during adverse weather. They also contribute organic matter to the soil when they decompose, which improves soil structure and fertility.

    Moreover, cover crops can act as natural weed suppressants, reducing the need for herbicides. To benefit your soil, consider planting cover crops during the off-season to keep it healthy and rich.