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September 2011

HealthySoil Referenced in Lowe's for Pros article: "Advanced Landscaping: Soil Science and Turf Management"


By: Laura Schlereth

Original URL: http://www.lowesforpros.com/advanced-landscaping-soil-science-and-turf-management

The sustainability of a landscape comes down to the quality of its soil and turf. Managing all of the necessary elements to create a healthy and productive lawn is a complex science. There are many considerations a landscaper must take into account.

Here are three common soil and turf issues landscapers encounter and solutions for how to fix them:

Issue: Wilting vegetation due to over-watering.

Solution: Create a tapering-off plan, and understand which plants need more water than others.

Steve Gaharan, director of Moore Lawn and Garden in Dallas, says he often sees plants that have been overwatered, and this causes them to shut down as soon as high temperatures arrive. After completing an installation, many landscapers don’t come back and change the irrigation routine, which is necessary because soil needs much more water during the first week.

Gaharan says landscapers working with a new installation often are reluctant to reduce irrigation if they see any of the plants wilting. But it takes time for plants to stop depending on being fed from the top and start pulling water from the soil. Also, it’s important not to mix high-water-use plants with low-water-use plants. Proper watering requires knowledge of your plant material, Gaharan says. Organize your landscape so proper irrigation can be catered to each section.

Issue: Degraded landscape soil due to constant grading.

Solution: Remineralize the landscape soil.

“The difference between rich, fertile soil and low-quality soil is the mineral composition,” says Laura Kreitler, chief financial officer of HealthySoil, a Gonzales, Calif.-based company that develops and manufactures products to improve soil health. “Minerals feed soil biology and enable the formation of healthy organic matter.” Remineralizing the soil is a great way to refresh the microbial environment. This can be accomplished by adding a high-quality mineral fertilizer. Tom Piatkowski, CEO of HealthySoil, recommends making two applications in the spring and fall—ideally when the landscape soil beds are being prepared (before planting)—so fertilizer can easily be incorporated into the topsoil. If that’s not possible, fertilizer can be applied topically to the landscape. Kreitler recommends using a multi-source, quarried mineral fertilizer because the diversity of elements will be greater than with a single-source material.

Issue: Loss of soil diversity due to disturbances.

Solution: Condition, inoculate and feed the soil a diverse population of microbes.

Adding high-quality organic matter to distressed landscape soil provides it with conditioning and a diverse population of microorganisms. To get started, contact your landscaper, local garden center or extension agent and explain that you want to improve the biological diversity of your soil. “Diverse sets of microbes or microorganisms containing bacteria, fungi and protozoa are the physical and nutritional foundation of soil,” Kreitler says. “Without them, plants and turf would not exist.” Microbes create micro-pores in soil that are able to hold water and nutrients within the soil profile. By introducing microbes to poor soil, you can increase the water-holding and nutrient-holding capacity of soil. This, in turn, improves fertilizer efficiency so you use less and reduce costs. Piatkowski says you should investigate the quality of the organic materials your supplier offers to ensure you have a sufficient amount of each soil microorganism group, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa and beneficial nematodes.

Properly caring for soil and turf may require some research, but taking the time to fully understand the needs of your landscape is important and will result in a healthy green lawn.

*Note: This content is for informational purposes only. Lowe's makes no warranties and bears no liability for use of this information. The information is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal, tax or investment advice, or a legal opinion. Always contact your legal, tax and/or financial advisors to help answer questions about your business's specific situation or needs prior to taking any action based upon this information.