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Friday, August 22, 2014

Got Compost: OM = Organic Material, Important in Building Healt...

Got Compost: OM = Organic Material, Important in Building Healt...: If your soil and turf are healthy, you might think that the soil would be able to generate its own organic content. This is not necessaril...

OM = Organic Material, Important in Building Healthy Soil

If your soil and turf are healthy, you might think that the soil would be able to generate its own organic content. This is not necessarily true. The ideal soil is open and crumbly, giving the grass roots plenty of room to grow full and deep. When digging, you should find a large population of earthworms and microbes; these are the good guys in your soil. When earthworms, microbes and roots die off they decompose, raising the soils’ organic levels for new soil life. This cycle is referred to as the Soil Food Web, where roots, earthworms, and microbes are constantly recycling themselves.

Truly healthy soil has between 3% and 5% organic material. That level can be maintained ONLY IF organic matter is added to the soil at the surface year in and year out. Plants, earthworms, and microbes need that extra matter to support healthy soil. In the woods and grasslands, that added organic matter came from dead leaves or dead grasses decomposing each year. We need to repeat that process in our lawns to be able to maintain a healthy organic content in our soil.
Very few residential landscapes have soil this rich with organic material. The truth is soil beneath our lawns typically contains less than 1% organic material. This is because over a ten or twenty year period not only was no new organic material introduced, but the main source of these materials such as leaves and grass clippings have been collected and transported to local landfills. What a waste!
Healthy soil needs a steady supply of new organic material. It’s constantly decomposing, adding nutrients for the grass and plants, and must be replaced. Decomposed grass clippings and other organic material don’t have much food value left, but they’re valuable in aerating the soil, storing water and in feeding key microorganisms needed for other tasks. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn might provide some organic material; it is not enough to consistently provide 3 or 5 %. This is why we need to add more.
How can we add extra organic matter, you ask?
The solution is simple, and one you may not be familiar with; top dressing. Top dressing a lawn is the process of adding a fine layer of quality compost to your lawn. The quick & easy method involves simply working the compost into the grass with the back of a landscaper’s rake or a stiff broom (making sure not to smother grass with compost) and watering thoroughly. In only a few days, you’ll notice your lawn taking on a strong, healthy appearance; greening up where before there were patches of brown grass.
The “Professional” method is the same process with one exception; aerate soil before adding compost. If you have an irrigation system you’ll need to make it’s marked with flags before aeration (don’t want to poke holes in pipes now, do we?) Then proceed as you would for the quick & easy method, making sure to water well when finished. When you top dress your lawn with compost, this organic material eventually begins to decompose. More important, the earthworms seek it out and pull it down into the soil and eat it. 
If you don’t regularly top dress your lawn, it’s high time to begin. It might sound like extra work, but it’ll pay off big time in contributing to the development of healthy soil; stimulating soil life to provide nutrients and opening soil structure so it holds air and moisture.
Harvest Blend Compost contains premium organic matter necessary to raise soils’ organic levels to the recommended 5%. Locally produced from quality, recycled organic materials, Harvest Blend Compost has passed the strictest testing methods to carry the Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) label. This means our products are free of weed seeds and pathogens, guaranteeing product safety for your lawn and garden.
Healthy soil translates into healthier grass. Growing in soil with 5% organic content, lawns can expand their considerable root systems, reaching deep into the soil to tap more dependable supplies of water and nutrients. They are more self-reliant, less dependent on us for nutrition and moisture. They do not suffer stress. The result is fewer problems with weeds, diseases and pests. Naturally!
For all the details on Top dressing and Harvest Blend Compost and all its benefits, go to or call us at 805-925-2771.