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7 Signs of Unhealthy Soil in a Garden

Updated: 7 days ago

When planting a garden or flowerbed, it may initially seem like nothing is growing as expected. If your plants are not growing, the first thing to look into is the soil. Below we identify seven ways to tell if the soil is healthy enough to support plant life or a garden. In discussing these tips, we will address what makes soil healthy, and answer the question, "does garden soil go bad?" All of this information will help you to have the best garden or flowerbed in the neighborhood. It will almost make your neighbors jealous but in a good way!

The Seven Signs to Look for in Unhealthy Soil

There are seven things to check out when determining if the soil is the problem if your plants are not growing. The first sign is the most obvious.

Nothing is Growing!

Whether you plant seeds or transplant plants, the soil should take hold of the plant and help it grow. If there is no growth from the seed or the plant dies after transplanting, this could be a sign that the soil is unhealthy for plant life. The question is, why is the soil unhealthy?

There could be a PH Problem with the Soil

The best way to check to see if there is a PH problem with your soil is to test the soil. Tri-C Organics provides free soil analysis test kits, so contact us to request your kit. The fees for the soil test are not too expensive, and it is a quick and easy way to get the most accurate answer about the problem in the soil. The soil test will tell you if the soil is too alkaline or too acidic. Either of them means there is a problem that needs to be resolved because either extremity will cause unhealthy plants or no vegetation life. Keep these test kits handy if you wish to have a garden or flowerbed.

Clay in the Soil

In some areas, clay is a problem that will devastate a garden or flowerbed. You can look at the soil's color to know if clay is present; it will either be black, ochre, or red. Another way to tell is to take the soil in your hands and pour water over it, and squeeze the soil, making it into a ball. Clay is present in the soil if the ball is slimy or stays together. Clay will prevent the roots from growing to get all the nutrients necessary.

Sand in the Soil

If too much sand is present in the soil, it means there are likely very little or no nutrients are present. To test this, you will need to dig deep in the soil and see if there is light-colored soil that resembles salt.

Soil too Compact

This is another problem that will cause roots to die out and kill the plant. If the soil is too compact, it is like a rock that the roots cannot break through for water and nutrients. When water is poured over the soil, the water will run off instead of getting soaked into the ground. If you try to break the ground with a shovel and cannot get far, that is another way of telling the soil is too compact.

Slow Growing Plants

Experienced gardeners will know how long it takes for plants to grow from seed to maturity. If plant life is present, but the growth is too slow, this is a sign that the soil may be to blame. Wilting or discoloration is another sign that the soil is the culprit. There may be just enough nutrients to keep the plants going, but not enough to keep the plants healthy and steadily growing.

Lack of Irrigation, or Too Much of It

In some situations, there may be a lack of irrigation to maintain the proper moisture in the soil. To test this, take a piece of soil and see if it crumbles in your hand or cracks into pieces. If this happens, there is not enough moisture in the soil. The soil should feel slightly damp without caking up in your hands.

Too much irrigation is also a problem because it can wash away the nutrients needed for the proper growth of the plants. A good irrigation system should fix the problem and allow you to adjust how much water the plants and soil are getting.

Does Garden Soil Go Bad?

Yes, garden soil can go bad over time because it loses its nutrients. Most gardening experts agree that every six months, the soil loses a certain amount of nutrients and the nutrients could be depleted within two years.

These are the ways to tell if the gardening soil is bad:

  • Too compacted

  • Discolored or molded

  • Infestations of insects

  • Smells bad

Refreshing the soil and adding soil amendments and humates to the soil will help maintain healthy soil.

For any questions or more information on unhealthy soil and what to do about it, contact us today.

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