How important is soil to the health of your lawn?
The turf suppliers Perth lawn-lovers can trust, Joondalup Turf Farm, share the facts about soil and how much of a factor it plays in maintaining your grass.
In order to create and maintain a perfectly green lawn that will thrive, you’ve got to take it back to the basics. We’re talking about mowing and watering consistency, and you guessed it, the quality of your soil.
You could spend hours tending to your lawn but it will make no difference if your soil isn’t healthy. High-quality soil creates optimal conditions for plants to establish strong root systems, access sufficient moisture and more!
The benefits of healthy soil
Ensuring that your soil is in good condition is highly important if you strive to have the best lawn on the block. Some of the reasons why your soil quality is beneficial to the health of your lawn include:
- Moisture Retention – Quality soil allows water to pass through at just the right rate – slow enough for plants to effectively absorb moisture yet fast enough to prevent excessive saturation and soggy conditions.
- Aeration – Diverse particle sizes throughout your soil result in a loosely structured soil that facilitates the unrestricted flow of oxygen.
- Nutrient Retention – Having sufficient clay content and inorganic matter can help retain nutrients within the soil, preventing them from being washed away by water.
How to Identify your soil type
To someone who is just starting out in gardening, soil is just soil. An experienced gardener will know that certain plants and varieties of grass may or may not be adaptive to particular types of soil.
Here in Australia, we have a collection of soil types and the kind that you have in your garden will have a big impact on your lawn. There are three main types of soil found in Aussie gardens and all affect your plants and grass in different ways.
- Sandy-Loam Soil
If you’re lucky enough to have this variety of soil your lawn care routine should be easy breezy. It generally consists of around 30% loam and 70% sand meaning that what sits above this type of soil profile will usually be healthy.
- Sandy Soils
Chances are if you live close to the coastline you will most likely have a sandy-based soil profile. This kind is ideal for establishing lawns but too much sand means it won’t retain much water resulting in your lawn and plants drying out. You will most likely be required to invest in a wetting agent to help your sandy soil retain moisture from rainfall or irrigation.
- Clay – Loam & Clay Soils
Heavier soils such as loam, clay loam or clay have less space and air between the soil particles. A higher clay content in the soil results in reduced interparticle space and air, causing greater water retention within the soil and limiting downward water movement. Consequently, these soils retain more moisture and require less frequent watering.
A quick and easy way to determine what kind of soil you have hiding under your grass is by placing a small amount of soil in the palm of your hand. You then add enough water to make it into a pliable ball and the following outcomes will determine the soil type:
- If the soil doesn’t stain your hands, won’t form a ball and has a gritty feeling, it is sand-based.
- When the soil is gritty and can be formed into a ball that can be rolled into a cylinder that breaks when gently bent, it is sandy loam.
- If the soil forms into a ball that can roll into a cylinder that doesn’t break when bent and doesn’t feel gritty, silky or sticky, it is loam.
- If the soil is like loam, has a smooth outer layer and feels sticky, it is clay loam.
- When the soil’s features are sticky, with a very smooth outer later and sticks together stronger than anything else, it is clay.
The signs of unhealthy soil
There are a number of signs that indicate whether the health of your soil is sufficient. The first sign is when there is too much sand in your soil. If you dig into your garden plot and find light-coloured and lightweight sand or silt, it’s unlikely that it has enough nutrients to sustain life.
The second sign is if your soil is bright red, ochre or black. This indicates that you may have a clay problem. Having too much clay in your soil means that your plant’s roots won’t be able to effectively spread and receive the oxygen they need. To find out for sure, water the soil and then squeeze a ball of it in your hand. If it stays together in a slimy lump, you have heavy, clay soil.
Another indicator of poor soil quality is if there is no insect activity or signs of plant life. When you soil is healthy, there will be worms that then help condition the soil and add nutrient-rich worm castings to your garden.
On the other hand, your soil could have a pH problem. Soil that has a pH that is either too acidic or too alkaline won’t allow plants to access the nutrients they need for optimal health. You can purchase an inexpensive soil testing kit from a local nursery to get a more scientific look at the quality of your garden soil.
The best turf knowledge and lawn installation Perth has to offer!
Recognising the crucial role of soil is paramount as it forms the basis of a healthy and resilient lawn, as well as ensuring that your grass flourishes in Western Australia’s unique climate.
As lawn Perth based professionals, the team at Joondalup Turf Farm are happy to help you with every aspect of selecting, installing and maintaining your lawn, including questions about soil.
We can develop a complimentary lawn care plan that will provide you with all the information you need about caring for your patch of paradise.
Feel free to call us for any kind of turf-related advice and assistance at (08) 9404 7821.