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Let’s Get Down and Dirt(y)

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To understand the basic properties of soils is to be on the winning side of solving our not-so-good local soil problems.

To start with, soils are primarily made up of sand, silt, and clay. Sands are the largest particles and provide very little water holding capacity. This is because they are really just little stones. Sandy soils also have a poor ability to hold plant nutrients. On the plus side, the water and plant foods within this environment are pretty much available to hungry roots.

dirty makes your lawn fertilizer work better in Colorado!

Silt particles are smaller than sand and their chemical and physical make-up puts them in between sand and clay. Their spherical shape allows them to handily retain water and release it to the growing plant. These soils are usually referred to as fertile.

Clays make up the smallest particles of soils and are often the most troublesome. To see the pieces clearly, better get a microscope! If you do, you’ll find them “laced” together like a great big pile of shingles. The tiny spaces in between retain water very well; the problem is they don’t want to let go of it. When wet, and you step on them, you not only get sticky shoes but the clay soil gets compacted and becomes less manageable. Since the air spaces have been squished out, roots get to gasping and usually die.

Since our soils are made up of sand, silt, and clay, how can you tell the percentage of each? Fill a quart jar 2/3 full of the soil you want to sample, then finish filling with water, making sure everything is soaked. Stir, then shake the mixture thoroughly and let it set for a day or so. The sand (heaviest) will make up the bottom layer followed by clay and then silt. The stuff gathered at the top, or floating in the water, is organic matter in various stages of decomposition.

Whatever the size of clay, silt and sand layers, we need to get more organic matter into the mix for improvement. Compost or Canadian sphagnum peat moss can be rototilled or dug into flower and garden sites but are tough to get into sodded areas. One answer is to use Revive to get adequate penetration through soils to the root zones. If you grow a strong, healthy turf, roots multiply by the thousands and turn to organic matter as they die and break down. This goes on all the time in your lawn. Over time you can get things healthy and working in that not-so-good soil.

Finally, not only is good water movement through soils essential, but also air needs to be available. As Revive make water “wetter” and it soaks down, air is pulled behind it to make for excellent growing conditions.

Revive, Inc.
6501 W 91st Ave
Westminster, CO 80031-2916
(303) 426-0373

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