The soil in a garden can determine if plants will grow successfully, and provide nutrients to ensure that the plants in your garden area healthy, and happy from year to year! The healthier your plants are, the less likely they will be affected by pests, disease and the more likely they will produce beautiful blooms.
In northern Illinois, many garden are filled with layers of clay underneath topsoil, and lack many nutrients plants, trees and shrubs need to survive. Most properties that have clay beds need some amending before planting can be done.
Soil regeneration is a new topic among farmers and gardeners. Healthy soil doesn’t only help your plants, it helps the environment. “Soil regeneration, as a particular form of ecological regeneration within the field of restoration ecology, is creating new soil and rejuvenating soil health by: minimizing the loss of topsoil, retaining more carbon than is depleted , boosting biodiversity, and maintaining proper water and nutrient cycling.”
Start with Soil Testing
Listing of Soil Testing Labs in Illinois
Before planting, we suggest testing the soil in your garden, to make sure it is suitable for the plants you are adding, so that you can purchase plants that will adapt well to that specific soil or make changes to the soil as needed. You can also purchase soil testing kits online, and test different areas of your garden
Planting in soil that is dry or wet can present its own challenges. If your soil is compacted from flooding and water doesn’t drain in an area of your garden, there are multiple things you can do to improve drainage. You can also purchase plants that are well suited for areas with standing water. This would be referred to as ‘Wet Feet’ and some plants thrive in these specific soil conditions.
Areas where soil is dry and hot, and or compacted with clay a gardner is presented with other challenges. Planting in these areas may not allow for root growth as roots will look for water, where it does not distribute evenly. Adding fresh top soil with sand, as well as compost can help break down clay, revitalize dry soil, and allow for water to drain properly throughout the bed. Plants in hot and dry areas should be labeled as drought tolerant, and require little to no watering. Drought tolerant and native plants can flourish in these environments with little to no support or outside water once established.
Flooding is a common threat in the northern Illinois area. As humans have developed and utilized urban areas, we have limited the areas, and plants that can consume rain water. As developed areas, cities and homes look for solutions to local flooding, soil regeneration, and native planting, can help deter flooding, and provide a way to decrease watershed problems.
Soil is also important for good plant & tree health as some plants require specific soil types, acidity levels and nutrients. If you can adjust your soil to fit the needs of the plants/trees/shrubs in that area, you will get a better overall result in your garden.