14.03.2016

SOIL COMPACTION IN THE LANDSCAPE

Global Bilgiler  /  at  04:50  /  No comments

Think of the word “soil” and what image first pops into your head? If you're like most people, you visualize a dark, fluffy, rich, nutrient-dense, compost-laden material. But the reality landscapers and gardeners face is often a much different picture. Arguably the most significant limiting factor in the success of a garden, soil compaction is a concept that few understand.
What is Soil Compaction?

Simply put, soil compaction refers to the deterioration of structure through the loss of open voids, also known as pore space, between soil particles. These pores are critical to the health of a plant because they store and transport water and air to plant roots and other soil microorganisms. Without proper pore space, water and air movement through the soil is restricted. As a result, you have plants with a reduced capacity to thrive and increased quantities of stormwater run-off.



soil compaction graphic with different size pores
text low soil oxygen levels caused by soil compaction are the primary factor limiting plant growth in landscape soils

What Causes Soil Compaction?

As one might suspect, soil compaction often occurs under the weight of heavy equipment, intense foot traffic, over-saturation of soils, and light foot traffic on moist soils. In addition, soil may compact because of improper landscape maintenance. Two common places this occurs is on lawns and planter beds. Lawns will easily compact when mowed when still moist, are not cored/aerated at regular intervals, or if organic material isn’t allowed to decompose naturally over the lawn. Similarly, if planter beds are left un-mulched for long, chemical and natural processes will slowly harden and compact the soil (especially when watered with overhead spray irrigation) to the point of compaction.

Do I have Compacted Soils?
For you to ask this question, you likely have some plants that look like they are struggling but you can’t seem to nail down the problem. Here are a few easy tests to help you identify if soil compaction is the issue:

-Visual Test: Do you dread digging holes in the garden? Do you require an adze and way too much sweat? Do you see lingering puddles or water run-off from the bare soil surface? Do your plants look down-trodden and no amount of water (little to lots) solves the problem? If so, odds are good that you have a compacted soil. If you aren’t convinced or want to know how serious of a problem it is, conduct the following Dig Test.

water infiltrating through soil

-Dig Test: Excavate a 12” x 12” x 12” hole and fill with water. Wait for water to infiltrate through the soil. Wait 1-2 hours, then fill again. Take note of the time at filling and record how long it takes the water to infiltrate. Results: If your second infiltration takes over 45 minutes (and you don’t have a very clayey soil to begin with), you likely have a soil compaction problem.

-Contact a Landscaper: Most experienced landscapers carry around a soil compaction tester in their trucks. These probes measure soil compaction quite easily and really only require your body weight.
http://www.landscaperesource.com/articles/introduction-soil-compaction-in-landscape.htm


Why is soil compaction an issue?


Compacted soil makes it harder for water to flow into the ground and makes it harder for deep roots to get water, as the water can’t work its way down through the soil profile. Compacted soil also makes it hard for roots to work their way deep into the soil and get nutrients. Shallow-rooted grass or other plants won’t be as hardy or stress-resistant.


How do you know if you have compaction problems in your yard?

There’s a few ways. If you have water pooling in your yard or areas that seem to stay wet and not drain well, your soil is probably compacted. One of the easiest ways to tell is looking for the dreaded yellow flowers… dandelions flourish in compacted soil because their long taproot is designed to push through soil and dig deep for water and nutrients. If you have a dandelion problem, you probably have compacted soil.

So… now that you’ve diagnosed that you probably have compacted soil, how do you fix it?

Compacted soil is easily corrected with a good, pure gypsum product. Soil Repair is the purest, organic gypsum available AND it’s made in Iowa — bonus for you. SoilRepair can be applied any time throughout the year but is great as a regular spring and fall application. It can be applied when you do your spring overseeding of the lawn or by itself.
http://www.drakehomesiowa.com/guest-blogs/soil-compaction/

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