All dirt is created equal, right? Wrong. Dirt is actually one of the most complex things you have in your yard. There needs to be so much in it so that your yard can be sustained – everything comes out of the dirt. When the soil in your yard is missing even one essential item, you will notice that nothing is growing as tall and strong as it should. This can manifest in different ways like your trees don’t produce as much fruit, the leaves aren’t as green as they were, or the entire tree just looks unhealthy.

When you are planting trees especially, it is important to understand the genetic makeup of your soil, what the pH of your soil is, and even what kind of soil you have – and yes, there are differences in all of the above.

So what needs to be in your soil? Let’s take a look:

4. Air Space

  • Allows for better watering
  • Stops any compaction
  • Aerate for better air space

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.”

So how can you stop soil compaction? You need to have air in your soil. The more air that your soil has, the better it will be for your plants. Water can fill into that space so that it permeates deep into the roots, but space also allows for drying so that there isn’t any mold growth. Of course, space also means that organic matter, nutrients, and even helpful insects can move throughout the soil without delay.

Of course, you want to have air naturally but that isn’t always possible. You can purchase soil that has more air in it or you can aerate your soil. Another approach is to get mulch because that almost guarantees a layer with a lot of air.

3. Nitrogen

  • Necessary for root development
  • Helps with cell development
  • Builds strong proteins for growth

One of the most essential elements of your soil is nitrogen, to the point that if you do not have enough nitrogen in your soil, you might end up with browned tips on your leaves, poor fruit production, and even weak roots that lead to falls. Nitrogen, according to Hunker, helps to sustain your tree throughout the photosynthesis process. Photosynthesis is the greatest single exporter of your tree’s energy, so you want to give it more than enough resources for that.

Trees that produce flowers and fruits need more nitrogen in the soil than any other trees, but it is necessary for all of them. From the roots of your trees on up, nitrogen helps with development at all levels of the process.

Think you need more nitrogen in your soil? You can add animal manure, especially poultry manure, to your garden.

2. Phosphorous

  • Produces energy
  • Helps nutrient absorption
  • Keeps tree healthy

The University of Minnesota supports the assertion that phosphorous is one of the most important elements of your soil for many reasons, but the primary one is that the roots will be stronger, thicker, and deeper. You need to have soil that is rich in phosphorous at all stages, but especially during the main growth years for your trees – around the first decade or more.

If you have low levels of phosphorous, you can expect to see a low fruit yield, dying leaves, or even purple splotches on the fruit and leaves of the tree.

Phosphorous is a tricky element to add to your soil, but it can be done using high quality animal meal that wasn’t treated with antibiotics.

1. Potassium

  • Helps with fluid absorption
  • Activates enzymes
  • Easy to add

According to 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.” This is the main reason why potassium is so important for your soil.

A good amount of potassium in your soil will lead to better moisture retention, which can definitely help to prevent damage from heat. Even better, your younger trees will be able to grow stronger roots.

If you do not have enough potassium in your soil, you will be able to tell almost immediately. Everything will just seem a little more limp. To add some potassium, you can start composing your soil, paying special attention to add fruit and vegetable scraps. This will help to increase potassium levels and help you eat healthier. If you don’t compost, you can add wood ash, but this will impact the pH levels of your soil.

Everything in your yard starts within the soil, so you need to pay attention to how it impacts growth and life in your yard. Get your soil tested if at all possible. If you notice that your trees aren’t growing that well or they don’t look healthy, your soil might be one cause of it. If you see these signs, you should also reach out to a tree care professional so that your trees will continue to grow healthy until your soil gets fixed – and even beyond that.

If you are looking for a tree care professional in South Jersey, give Bumblebee Tree Service a call today at (609) 297-1721. We will help you to better understand your trees and how to handle any springtime issues that you may find.

Header photo courtesy of Richard on Flickr!