7 | How To | Choosing a Soil Amendment | |

Serving Calgary, AB and Surrounding Areas

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How To

Choosing a Soil Amendment

Do You Know What's in Your Garden Soil?

Calgary soil can be hard to work with. In new home construction, builders often use fill material that has little or no nutritional value. You CAN improve your soil and we can help. Here's how:

  • Your plants get their food from the soil around it. Keeping the soil packed with good nutrients will help root growth and your plants will ultimately survive our harsh winters. Providing enough organic matter is the key. Healthy soil typically contains 5-7% organic matter. Without it, nothing really grows - except weeds.
  • Screened Loam contains sand, clay and silt in almost equal proportions. Due to its composition, screened loam holds moisture well. This is also why a good garden mix will have a larger percentage of screened loam than organic matter.  Check out our BMD Garden Blend and BMD Veggie Blend for quality garden soils you can plant directly into.
  • The essential basic nutrients for your plants are Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These important nutrients can be supplied through the addition of a soil amendment such as our  Peat Moss, Montane Garden Mulch or NutriOM compost. Compost can help maintain a pH of your soil between 6.0 to 7.5. Ideally, have your soil tested for optimal results and application rates.
  • Good, nutritious soil should hold moisture well, have a crumbly texture and be easy to work with. If it is too compacted, your plants will struggle. Heavy compaction is often due to higher clay content. The sandy composition of NutriLoam can amend compressed soils and provide better drainage.  Straight sand, peat moss or compost can work as well. 

Soil Health

As Recommended by the Composting Council of Canada

Flower Beds

  • Work 2 1/2 cm (1”) of compost or soil enhancer into the soil. Water until the entire root zone is saturated. For new beds, add 2 1/2 to 5 cm (1” - 2”) of compost and rototill to at least a 12 cm (5”) depth. Most annuals and perennials do quite well in compost-amended soils.

Top Dressing of Established Lawns

  • Aerate your lawn before topdressing. Then spread 1/3 to 1 1/4 cm (1/8” to 1/2”) of compost evenly over the area using a rake. Water the area thoroughly. Water helps the compost move through the thatch layer, to the soil surface and into aeration holes.

New Lawn Establishment

  • For lawns that are going to be seeded or sodded, apply about 2 1/2 to 5 cm (1” - 2”) of compost and rototill to a depth of 12 cm (5”). For seeded lawns, apply seed and then spread a thin layer of compost to cover seed. Compost helps increase grass seed germination by providing adequate seed to soil contact, moisture and balanced nutrients.

Planting Trees

  • Rototill up to 5 times the diameter of the rootball of the tree to be planted. Add about 30% compost by volume to the area and mix thoroughly outside the hole with the native soil. Place the tree into the hole and use the compost amended soil mixture as a backfill around the rootball. It is important to make sure that there are no air pockets around the roots as you backfill the hole. Remove excess soil and water thoroughly.

Vegetable Gardens

  • Apply about 2 1/2 cm (1”) of compost and rototill into the soil to a depth of 12 cm (5”). You may need to apply compost on a yearly basis to poor soils until the proper nutrient level has been established. Do not over-apply compost because many vegetables will not produce high yields if there is excess nitrogen in the soil.

Flowers and Plants

  • For optimum mulch application results around annuals, perennials and other landscape plants, use a 5 cm (2”) layer of compost. Avoid over- or under-mulching because other problems can arise, such as smothering of root systems. Grade the mulch so water flows away from trunks reducing chances for crown rot. Finer compost does not suppress weeds as well as coarse-textured composts do.

Product Installation

Need us to install your mulch, composts, screened loam, lawn edging, decorative rock or sand & gravel for you?  Please visit our new BMD Landscapes website.