What do you see when you look at your soil? Probably a lot of nothing, right? That isn’t true at all – the soil in your yard, the very foundation of your property, is one of the most amazing, complex structures in the world. It is made up of elements, minerals, and components that all need to work together in perfect harmony to grow every structure in your yard. If your soil does not have a certain element, your tree might not be able to grow tall and strong, or it won’t produce as much fruit, or it will have trouble at some point of the growing period.

If you want to take good care of your yard and your trees, you need to pay attention to your soil. You need to know what the make-up is, what the pH level is, and even what type of soil you have. You can get your soil tested or you can do it yourself – but first, you need to know what has to be in your soil.

Let’s break it down:

4. Air

  • Helps to keep water levels consistent
  • Stops compaction of the soil
  • Aeration helps break up compactions

According to the Morton Arboretum, “When soil is compacted, the number of large pores decreases and the number of small pores increases. As Coder writes, “The total pore space of soil being compacted initially increases as more capillary pores are created and as aeration pores are lost. With continuing compaction, total porosity declines and oxygen diffusion rates plumate. The pore sizes which fill and empty with water and air are most impacted by compaction.”As a result, less air and water can be held in the soil.”

The more holes or empty spaces that your soil has, the better off it will be. This is because you need to have air for drying and watering. Once you water, if it just sits in the soil, mold can develop and invite diseases and pests into your yard.

It is better to have soil that naturally has more air throughout it, but that isn’t possible in all climates. You can purchase soil that has increased air in it or you can mulch because that naturally has air. Of course, you can also aerate your lawn and gardens.

3. Nitrogen

  • Gets used in the plant
  • Develops proteins and roots
  • Helps cells develop

Nitrogen is one of the most important elements that your tree needs to survive – if it doesn’t have it, there will be many problems. Nitrogen is key to the development of proteins, which means that it is also key to the growth of a strong, tall, healthy tree. If you have a tree that flowers or gives fruit, you will need to have nitrogen in your soil to have a successful yield.

Nitrogen is one of the most imperative elements of the photosynthesis process, according to Hunker. Photosynthesis helps your trees to develop energy so that they can grow even when there aren’t other elements in place.

If you notice that your trees are turning yellow or brown, especially near the tips, you might not have enough nitrogen in your soil. If you want to increase that amount, you should add animal manure, especially poultry manure, to your garden.

2. Phosphorous

  • Allows energy increases
  • Helps with nutrient absorptions
  • Keeps tree healthy

According to the University of Minnesota, phosphorous is so important to the growth of your trees – especially in the growth stages. This is because, like nitrogen, it is so critical in the photosynthesis process. This means that you absolutely want to ensure that your soil has phosphorous.

If you do not have enough phosphorous, you might notice that you have leaves that are wilting and dying. However, it is even more common to see purple splotches on your fruits. To rectify this problem, you want to add animal meal to your soil – but it absolutely has to be high quality and not treated with antibiotics.

1. Potassium

  • Activates enzymes in the soil and tree
  • Comes in two forms
  • Promotes overall health

Potassium is the most important element in many diets, including the diet of your trees. This is why it absolutely needs to be in your soil.

Per the Northeast Organic Farming Association, “Potassium is the Great Regulator. It is active in numerous enzyme systems which control metabolic reactions, particularly in the synthesis of proteins and starches. Micronutrients, which have similar functions, are required only in minute amounts. In contrast, potassium must be present in large quantities, although it seems to be completely unsuited for its role.”

Potassium is one of the most important elements and a good amount of potassium will also help with moisture retention and can help protect against scalding and heat damage.

If you don’t have enough potassium in your soil, you will see leaves and branches that are limp and just not as lively as other plants. To add it, the best thing you can do is add potassium into the soil through compost – namely fruits and vegetable skins. You can also add wood ash, but then you do have to pay attention to the pH levels.

No matter what you do, make sure that you keep an eye on your soil. Even if it is okay one month, a lot of rain or heat can change it fairly quickly.

If you are looking for a tree care professional in Southern Ontario, give Van Till Tree Care a call today at (705) 653-3777. We will help you to better understand your trees and how to handle any soil issues that you may find – of course, we can also help you with many other issues that you might find for your trees – from the very top of the tree to the roots.

Header photo courtesy of Yutaka Seki on Flickr!

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