The Makings of a Good Top Soil – Part 2

As you now know, your top soil has many varying roles in your garden environment from feeding your plant and delivering water to simply holding it upright and in place.

Nutrient Availability

Once a plant is kept upright; has enough water to survive and there are enough air spaces (porosity) around the roots for gaseous exchange, we then need to ensure that it has enough food or nutrients to grow and flourish. All the soil blends at Centenary Landscaping Supplies will provide enough nutrients for the establishments of a garden or lawn, with some containing richer blends of compost than others but it is crucial to remember that these wont last forever. Depending on the particular situation, an ongoing fertilising regime is so important for the ongoing success of the landscaped area.

pH and Nutrient Availability

This is where the pH of the soil (acidity or alkalinity) becomes important as all the different nutrients the plants need are soluble to varying degrees at different pH levels. For the vast majority of plant species used in general landscaping a slightly acidic pH (6) through neutral (7) to slightly alkali (7.5) will result in good growth as it is between these pH levels that the most nutrients are soluble and become available to the plant roots for absorption.

The three main nutrients that are needed for good plant growth are: Nitrogen(N), that promotes leaf growth; Phosphates(P), that stimulate root growth and Potassium(K) that encourages flower & fruit production. Its important that all these are available to the plant as well as a whole host or micro nutrients and trace elements.

It needs to be understood that while the above provides an overall picture of what our plants need in the garden, there are a whole host of other physical and environmental issues that can affect the establishment or success of a garden or a lawn … such as the availability of sunlight, the depth of the soil, the quality of the existing subsoil etc.

Natural Soil vs Organic soil blend?

Why are organics used in the mixes? And why don’t we just sell “straight” or “natural” soil? In a natural soil without organics, the particles are very close together, which makes it hard for water to drain through the soil, and it makes it hard for air to penetrate down to the roots of the plant. Opening up the soil by blending through organic material, space is provided for the air and water to move around and a much better physical environment for the plant to grow. Organic matter also provides a source of food and in dry periods the organics can act as small water storage reservoirs to help the plant survive. So remember that the organics are not just fillers to make the soil go further, they play a very important role in the success of the soil blend. Natural soil is still available but needs to be used carefully and blended with composted organic material to improve its effectiveness.

Composted Organic Material

Making sure that the ingredients used in soil blends are fully composted is critical, and this can take between six to eight weeks or more. Using uncomposted material in soil mixes can lead to what is called Nitrogen Drawdown… basically as the “fresh” material breaks down it sucks some of the goodness from the soil, which can hinder plant growth. The time it takes to compost properly contributes to the cost of the soil but is vital for good plant growth.

What we have done at Centenary Landscaping Supplies is provide a range of Planting media drawn from 3 major manufactures in SE Qld that provide options for all gardening situations that you may face. If you want the very best for your shrubbery, food crops, under or on top of your lawn or raised planters, then check out the full UltraGROW range or give the Sales Team a call, they will be able to advise what really does suit your gardens needs.

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