There are a lot of factors to think about when caring for plants. Whether you have a flower bed, vegetable garden, or a shelf full of houseplants, making sure you’re using the best soil for your plants is key to lush, strong growth.
Sometimes, it’s not easy to know what’s right for your plants. That’s where using the best soil amendments. By choosing what you add to the soil, you can be sure each plant is getting just what it needs.
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What is Soil Amendment?
A soil amendment is something you add to the soil to improve its physical properties. You can’t always depend on Mother Nature to give your plants what they need and soil mixes from the garden center may be missing some things. That’s where soil amendments come in.
One thing to keep in mind about soil and amendments is that the needs of your soil will continue to change. Eventually, it will return to its natural state so you must continue to monitor the state of the soil and make adjustments accordingly.
How often you need to make changes depends on what you’re starting with. Some soil needs more help than others. Your climate plays a big part, too. Those that are exceptionally wet or hot and dry affect the soil in different ways.
The best thing you can do is test your soil regularly to make sure it has enough of what it needs to support your plants. Testing is really the only way to know exactly where you stand and what amendments you need.
The Best Soil Amendments For Lawns, Vegetables & Garden
There is a wide variety of soil amendments out there for all of your gardening needs. Here are some of the best options available.
|Liquid Aerating Soil Loosener- Aerator Soil Conditioner||Liquid Soil Aerator, Soil Conditioner||Buy on Amazon|
|Simple Grow Solutions Humic Fulvic Acid Concentrated Soil Treatment||Concentrated Liquid Organic Soil Treatment||Buy on Amazon|
|The Andersons Humic DG Organic Soil Amendment||Carbon Soil Amendment||Buy on Amazon|
|Jobe's Organics Soil Amendment||Garden Lime, Soil Acidifier, Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Compost Starter||Buy on Amazon|
|Espoma PR8 Organic Perlite||Perlite||Buy on Amazon|
|Brut Worm Farms Worm Castings Soil Builder||Worm Castings||Buy on Amazon|
|Hoffman 15503 Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss||Peat Moss||Buy on Amazon|
|Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer, Wiggle Worm Soil Builder||Worm Castings||Buy on Amazon|
|Espoma GS7 Greensand Soil Conditioner||Glauconite||Buy on Amazon|
|Espoma GL6 Garden Lime Soil Amendment||Lime||Buy on Amazon|
|Plantation Products Professional Grade Vermiculite||Peat Moss, Perlite||Buy on Amazon|
|Plantonix Coco Coir Brick||Coconut Coir Pith, Fibers||Buy on Amazon|
Soil Amendment Reviewed
1. Liquid Aerating Soil Loosener- Aerator Soil Conditioner
This liquid soil loosener is a great alternative to mechanical or physical methods. It easily loosens soil and breaks it apart to increase aeration, allowing water to penetrate deeper and more air to get down to the roots.
There are a lot of benefits to using this product from Simple Home Solutions. Because it improves drainage, it helps flush out impurities and eliminates standing water. It also breaks apart colloids which makes it easier for roots to push through and get strongly established.
Simple Lawn Solutions is non-toxic, biodegradable, and natural. It’s made in the USA and safe for use around pets and children. This product works well with every type of grass and soil and improves overall health while enhancing the green color.
The large 32-ounce bottle goes a long way, covering 32,000 square feet. For best results, they recommend using four weeks before planting. Be sure to water appropriately to help make sure nutrients are adequately absorbed.
2. Simple Grow Solutions Humic Fulvic Acid Concentrated Soil Treatment
Simple Grow Solutions concentrated soil treatment is great for stressed soil. It conditions it, increasing the transfer of fertilizer and allowing plants to easily absorb the nutrients they need to thrive, including nitrogen, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
This concentrated liquid blend is derived from leonardite which is considered one of the highest-quality sources of humic and fulvic acid available. The brand uses a proprietary method to extract them which is more effective than standard powder applications.
You can use this product on turfgrass, hardy trees, grass, vegetable, citrus, fruits, and even new seeding. It encourages plant and root development and increases the water retention of the soil.
This product is available in a 32-ounce or one-gallon bottle of concentrate. There are detailed mixing instructions on the label but, generally, you mix four-ounces in a gallon of water which covers about 1,000 square feet. It can be added to any fertilizer routine and should be applied once every two weeks for the best results.
3. The Andersons Humic DG Organic Soil Amendment
If you prefer a granular soil conditioner, this product from The Anderson’s is a great choice. It contains three sources of humic – humin, humin acid, and fulvic acid. Humic acts like building blocks for organic matter, increasing microbial activity, and encouraging plant growth.
This product is effective with any soil but works particularly well with sandy soils. The granules are easy to apply and spread. They were specially designed to be activated by moisture, ensuring quick and even incorporation throughout the soil.
You can use this product on crops, turf, trees, and shrubs and there are specific instructions for each on the label. At a medium application rate, the 11-pound bag covers about 5,500 square feet. A larger 40-pound bag is also available if you have a lot of ground to cover or if you want a heavier application
When used properly, this soil conditioner increases fertilizer efficiency and nutrient absorption, leading to better seed germination and root vigor, increased root mass, and better overall plant health. You can use it with fertilizers and it’s safe for organic farming.
4. Jobe’s Organics Soil Amendment
This soil amendment from Jobe’s Organic is ideal for increasing soil pH. Acidity can lead to poor availability of nutrients so your plants aren’t getting what they need. Most plants need a pH of around six or seven. Less than six and it’s likely no nutrients are being absorbed at all.
Adding Jobe’s lime soil amendment helps make the nutrients that are already in the soil available to the plants again. This encourages plant health and results in bigger blossoms and brighter colors.
This product comes in an easy-pour six-pound resealable bag so it’s easy to use and stores safely when you’re finished. The granules apply evenly, just use the recommended amount and water thoroughly when finished. Jobe’s recommends checking your soil’s pH before applying.
The package has detailed instructions about how much to apply depending on the current pH level of your soil. You’ll also find information about the application for different types of plants, like shrubs, trees, vegetables, herbs, and flower gardens.
5. Espoma PR8 Organic Perlite
Espoma’s 100 percent natural perlite helps loosen heavy soils, preventing compaction and allowing water to drain efficiently. It’s great to use when starting seedlings or attempting to grow new plants from cuttings.
Perlite is a good addition to your soil for several reasons. This product has a neutral pH, contains no toxic chemicals, and is safe for organic gardening. One of the big benefits is it retains a little bit of water without allowing the soil to get soggy, making sure your plants stay hydrated while lowering the risk for root rot.
If you’ve ever seen those small white balls that appear in potting mix, you’re already familiar with perlite. One of the best ways to make use of it is to mix your own potting soil, using two parts peat moss and one part perlite. This product can also be used to store bulbs until planting season, just pour dry perlite around the bulb and you’re done.
6. Brut Worm Farms Worm Castings Soil Builder
Worm castings are a beneficial soil enhancer straight from Mother Nature. Brut Worm Farms castings are an easy way to get all of the benefits of them from a company that doesn’t outsource production. They do it themselves, right on their farm in Minnesota.
These castings are pure, dark, rich, and loaded with organic matter to boost the long-term health of your soil. They’re full of the beneficial bacteria and microbes that help your plants thrive plus they’re certified safe for organic gardening.
This 30-pound bag should last a long time. Since Brut Worm Farms produces their own castings, you can trust that they’re super fresh. Each bag contains casts that were less than a week old at the time of packaging. They’re non-toxic, odor-free, and great for both indoor and outdoor plants.
Another impressive thing about these castings is that they’re raised in indoor containers so you know you’re getting the real thing without any contaminants. They harvest fresh peat, too, which ensures freshness and the best castings out there.
7. Hoffman 15503 Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
When added to the soil, this sphagnum peat moss from Hoffman increases aeration as well as nutrient and moisture retention. It actually holds up to 20 times its weight in water. This premium grade Canadian sphagnum is all-natural and 99.8 percent organic.
This product has a neutral pH and mixes with other amendments, including vermiculite, perlite, and even worm castings. It’s great for succulents and carnivorous plants and can be easily mixed with soil or blended with vermiculite and perlite to create soilless mixes.
The fine, soft texture is lightweight and easy to apply as it blends gently into the soil. It arrives with just the right amount of moisture so it’s ready to use without any prep. Depending on how you use it, this 10-quart package should last a long time. The resealable bag makes storage easy, too.
8. Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer, Wiggle Worm Soil Builder
Pure earthworm castings are some of the best natural fertilizers around and Wiggle Worm Soil Builder is one of the best brands available. These pure earthworm castings are non-toxic, odor-free, and excellent for vegetables, flowers, houseplants, and more.
Earthworm castings contain a vast amount of water-soluble nutrients and trace elements. Some are readily available to your plants while others remain in the soil to provide long-term nutrition.
These tiny oblong castings also help to improve the structure of the soil, aerating it and allowing roots to easily spread and grow. This also facilitates drainage which helps avoid root rot while increasing the soil’s capacity to retain water.
There are instructions on the bag that tell you how much to apply depending on the size of the plant. That said, you only need to use a small amount so this 15-pound bag should last quite a while.
9. Espoma GS7 Greensand Soil Conditioner
An excellent organic soil conditioner from Espoma is Greensand. It’s loaded with glauconite which is mined from natural marine deposits. Glauconite is rich in iron-potassium silicate which is where it gets its blue-green coloring.
This product also contains potash and other nutrients and minerals to nourish your plants. It works great on gardens, lawns, and flowerbeds, promoting rapid growth while conditioning the soil.
Greensand is also a great choice if you need something that binds sandy soils or loosens clays, making it easier for roots to spread and penetrate the soil to grow stronger. Plus, it increases water capacity while improving drainage, helping to control any damage from overwatering.
A single bag of this product contains 7.5 pounds of Greensand and you can order in packs of two, three, four, or five if you have a large garden or prefer to order in bulk. Application rates depend on how you use it. For a medium application, you need 30 pounds for 100 square feet. Individual plants need ⅓ cup each.
10. Espoma GL6 Garden Lime Soil Amendment
If you’re looking for something that can help lessen the acidity of your soil, check out this Garden Lime soil amendment from Espoma. It not only turns hydrangeas pink but will also benefit any plants that prefer alkaline soil. These pellets are much safer than hydrated lime and can be used anywhere.
Application is simple. The small pellets spread easily, allowing for a uniform application using a spreader or whatever method you prefer. There are detailed instructions on the bag. Note that this product is also approved for organic gardening and it’s made using 100 percent solar power.
How much you apply depends on the pH of your soil. For a pH of 4.5, they recommend using 15 pounds per 100 square feet. For a pH of 6.0, they recommend 3.5 pounds. It’s definitely worth checking the soil pH first so you know how many bags to order.
11. Plantation Products Professional Grade Vermiculite
Plantation Products Vermiculite is a professional-grade amendment that can be used for a variety of things. It’s an effective and efficient soil conditioner that loosens the soil, retains water, and provides aeration to improve the growth of your plants.
This product can be used to propagate cuttings and grow seedlings. It’s also great for storing bulbs until it’s time for planting. You can mix it with perlite and peat moss to create your own special blend of potting soil or use it as a part of a soilless mix.
Because this product is so fine, application is simple and it’s easy to get it blended throughout the soil. Its small size makes it very efficient at retaining moisture and it improves the texture, allowing the roots to easily push through and establish themselves.
Depending on how you use it, this eight-quart bag should last a really long time. If you use a lot and want to buy in bulk, two packs are also available.
12. Plantonix Coco Coir Brick
This coco coir is a 100 percent natural byproduct of harvesting coconuts, made of the coarse fibers on the outer husk. It maintains moisture, aerates the soil, and promotes adequate drainage. It can also be used to break up hard clays, allowing nutrients to be used more effectively.
Plantonix uses high-grade coconut coir that’s OMRI listed for organic farming. It has very low salt content and neutral pH, too, so it won’t negatively impact the soil. You can use this product just about anywhere, including potted plants, gardens, and containers.
Coir is one of the easiest garden products to store. It comes in 1.4-pound bricks. To use, soak the brick in water for at least an hour. Use more or less water to get the consistency you want. One brick can hold between eight and 10 times its volume in water so you have some wiggle room when hydrating.
Choose from five, 20, 45, or 90 blocks, depending on how much you need and whether or not you want to keep a stash of them for later.
Types of Soil Amendments
There are multiple types of soil amendments and what you should use generally depends on what you’re trying to do.
One of the most common reasons is to improve the texture of the soil. A lot of soil doesn’t have the organic material needed for adequate water retention and to support the proper soil structure.
Why does this matter? Having the right structure encourages roots to spread and grow strong, making it easier for new growth to push through. It also supports proper draining which prevents standing water and helps prevent root rot.
There are a few types of soil amendments that help with texture, including worm castings and coconut coir.
Another common reason for soil amendments is adjusting the soil pH. Most plants prefer neutral pH. The only way to make sure they’re getting it is to check your soil regularly and use amendments as needed.
There are multiple options available for increasing soil pH, too. Lime and different variations of lime are the most common.
If you are unable to test your soil, there are some things you can look for that may indicate a problem. Basically, if your plants look healthy and seem to be doing well, everything is probably fine for the time being.
Plants that are turning yellow, wilting, or otherwise starting to look sickly likely a problem. Before you rush to add fertilizer, check the soil. It may be a problem with pH or the soil might be too moist.
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Soil Amendment
There are multiple things to think about when choosing the right soil amendment for your garden.
First, think about how long the amendment will last in the soil. Specifically, ask yourself if you’re trying to make quick improvements or if you’re looking for something that will create long-lasting change.
For fast results, choose an amendment that decomposes quickly, giving your soil all the benefits in the shortest amount of time. If you want something long-acting, go for an amendment that decomposes slowly, drawing out the benefits for as long as possible.
The third option is a combination of amendments that gives both a quick boost and long-lasting results. Most of the products we chose can be used in conjunction with one another. Be sure to read the directions carefully just to be sure.
Next, consider the texture of the soil. Sandy soils have a gritty texture made of large particles while clay soil particles are smaller and much more hard and compact. Each of these is challenging in their own way.
With sandy soils, you want to make it easier for the soil to hold onto nutrients and water. Clay soils have the opposite problem. They’re not permeable enough so you need to increase aeration and drainage.
Finally, consider the pH and salt content. Some plants, like beans, carrots, strawberries, and trees like pine and maple are very sensitive to salts. In this case, use plant-based composts.
Determine what pH your plants prefer. Even neutral soil amendments can change the pH level. If your plants are particularly sensitive and like something a little higher or lower on the scale, adding a neutral pH can shift this, affecting your plants’ growth.
How to Use Soil Amendments?
You can add soil amendments any time of year but it’s a good idea to test the soil and make changes at the beginning of the planting season and again before winter. This way, the soil is adequately prepared for supporting your plants as they grow through the summer and to keep things stable throughout the winter.
The application depends on the product so make sure you read the instruction carefully. Generally, you add the correct amount of the amendment then use a rake or spade to work it into the top of the soil.
Soil quality is one of the defining factors in whether or not your plants thrive. You can’t rely on Mother Nature to make everything right. Soil amendments let you control the quality of the soil by adding the things it needs to give your plants the best growing environment possible.
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