Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Soil Amendments Comprehensive List

Photo by Jorge Vivanco

 An improved way to look at soil! 

CrabappleLandscapExperts picture the soil food web as a living, breathing mass teeming with the roots of living plants, insects, worms, invertebrates, amoeba, bacteria and fungi (both beneficial and pathogenic). All of these living organisms need both moisture and oxygen to stay healthy, along with nutrients and the proper acid/base environment.

There are many options for soil improvement. The LandscapExperts view soil amendments as any material added to the native earth in order to improve its ability to grow plants and create outstanding landscapes. Physical properties such as soil structure, aeration, permeability and water infiltration and drainage, as well as fertility properties such as soil acidity or alkalinity, pH, cation exchange capacity and nutrient levels all play a role. 

Unlike mulch, amendments are thoroughly mixed into the soil. 

Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS divide the list of Soil Amendments into 6 categories: 
1. organic soil conditioners
2. inorganic soil additives
3. mineral nutrient sources
4.  biological inoculants and activators
5. plant stimulants, growth regulators, plant hormones 
6. wetting agents or surfactants (primarily for potting mixes) 

Following is a selected list of some of the materials that can be added to metro-Atlanta’s Georgia red clay.
      Organic soil conditioners
Crabapple's Green Recycling Program
turns landscape waste into rich compost.
Organic Compost
Aerated compost tea
Animal manure, aged and well-rotted
Manure tea
Bagged humus and compost
Mr Natural
Nature’s Helper
Mushroom compost
Worm compost
Worm tea 
Ground pine bark
Coffee grounds
Blood meal
Bone meal
Alfalfa, Soybean or Cottonseed meal – adds nitrogen, lowers pH
Wood ashes  - quick source of potassium, raises pH
Grass clippings
Wood chips
Peat moss

Inorganic soil additives or “place holders”
Coarse river sand - NOT the fine builders or bricklayers sand bagged at the big box stores
Granite grit - byproduct of Georgia's granite industry
Pea gravel - inert
Perlite -  heat-expanded mica
Vermiculite - heat expanded mica that holds water and 
Shredded tire chunks

      Mineral nutrient sources
Adding lime to surface of lawn.
Lime - Dolomitic lime is magnesium calcium carbonate
Gypsum – calcium sulfate
Rock Phosphate or Triple superphosphate - slow release does not pollute riversheds
Greensand – iron potassium silicate aka glauconite
Sulfur - acidifies the soil 
Epsom salts – magnesium sulfate
Aluminum Sulfate - acidifies the soil, as for Japanese Iris or BLUE Hydrangeas 
Biological inoculants and activators
Beneficial bacteria, friendly fungi to inoculate roots and mycorrhizal associations
 benefiting plants through increased nutrient uptake 
Agverra SRT, Dr. Earth  Super Active Biological Inoculant, Soil Smart 

Plant stimulants, transplant solutions, growth regulators
Superthrive rooting hormone, vitamin and plant hormone (1 drop per gallon formula) 
Rootone rooting hormone

Wetting agents and surfactants
Terra-Sorb Hydro Gel - a "water grabber" commonly mixed into potting mixes to allow water absorption by hydrophobic (water-hating) peat moss 

The LandscapExperts select from among this lengthy list to provide your landscape soils with amendments  to bring them to optimum condition. 

Digging Deeper 
Very helpful University of Georgia PDF entitled Soil Inoculants

This is the Mother of all Soil Additive Lists:

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