The Best Soil Additives for Your Garden

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Organic additives seek to enhance the soil's physical properties, for instance, water retention, aeration, drainage permeability, and soil structure. Improved soil properties permit the roots to infiltrate the soil and acquire the required moisture and air.

Organic additives derive from animals or plants while inorganic ones are mined or manmade. Inorganic additives comprise perlite, sand, and gravel.

Various additives are accessible to help you develop optimal growing conditions for your plants. Therefore, it's important you understand how and when to apply them so you can cater subsurface conditions to the precise needs of your soil and plants throughout the growth cycle.

At Orlando sprinkler repair, we advise our clients when it comes to applying soil additives. Here's what you should know about them.

Types of Additives

Mined Additives

  • Potash

soil additivesThis is one of the most widespread sources of inorganic potassium and describes any salts comprising water-soluble potassium. Potassium is one of the most significant macronutrients for your plants, so we recommend you add it regularly.

  • Glauconite

Also called greensand, this additive is a source of potassium and other trace minerals beneficial for plant development like magnesium, iron, and calcium. Trapped in sand particles, the release of these minerals occurs over a much longer period compared to other inorganic additives.

Consequently, this additive is more structural and adds nutrients slowly. Moreover, it's most valuable in growing systems that use similar soil repeatedly.

  • Vermiculite and Perlite

Both additives offer increased moisture retention and aeration to the soil while reducing the possibility of compaction. Their application is dependent on the plant's moisture level. Vermiculite retains considerable water and you should use it with plants that favor considerable water.

On the other hand, perlite is not only more porous but also loses water quicker, making it perfect for plants that favor less water.

Organic Additives

Plant or animal by-products are organic additives, which offer nutrients for plant development across various release times. They also offer beneficial changes to subsurface conditions by changing soil structure. They include:

  • Manure

Animal dung offers various benefits for plants and soil. The application and timing of manure differ depending on the animal from which production occurred. Manure enhances soil aggregation by increasing humus and organic matter, which together with added nutrients, encourages soil microbe activity.

Chicken manure and guano make great natural fertilizers because they comprise huge quantities of plant macronutrients. You can mix manure into the soil before planting or apply it as a top dressing when necessary.

Some kinds of manure enhance microbial activity considerably, generating heat that could damage plants. In this case, they should undergo composting before application.

  • Plant Meals

Various plant meals offer nutrients and useful chemicals for your garden. Alfalfa meal enhances microorganism activity besides being a good source of triacontanol and nitrogen. It produces heat as it decomposes like certain manures and you should add it in moderation as a top dressing or with sufficient time before planting.

Kelp meal is a great source of nitrogen and comprises glucosinolates that repress soil diseases and enhance pest resistance.

Benefits of Soil Additives

Orlando sprinkler systemsGarden soils face nutrient depletion as the naturally occurring minerals and vitamins are drained from the dirt by plants, weeds, and trees. Soil erosion could further deplete the natural capacity of the earth to drain or retain water.

When nutrient depletion or soil compaction occurs, it's time to add additives. A soil additive is an alteration that enhances the soil in a way that might benefit your plants. The physical enhancements might be aeration, drainage, water retention, or other changes but the goal is to offer a more nourishing soil. This can occur in numerous ways but the most common natural means is through organic materials.

One benefit of additives is the improvement of soil structure. The addition of decomposed additives such as compost enhances soil fertility and water retention. Most soils gain from the inclusion of a 2-3 inch layer of plant-based additives, for instance, compost.


A number of organic additives, for instance, manure and wood ash have elevated salt concentrations. At Orlando sprinkler systems, we advise our clients against using these products excessively or repeatedly because they can cause the accumulation of salt in the soil.

Additional issues can arise when using compost that hasn't heated adequately to destroy weed seeds and human or plant pathogens. We recommend you compost manure products at 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy microorganisms. If the manure hasn't attained these temperatures, don't use it for edible crops.

Your soil is where the plants eat, breathe, live, and fight diseases. Therefore, nothing is more significant to your gardening and plants than soil. For this reason, you should understand the role of additives and the kinds you should apply. Fortunately, we have experts who will advise you accordingly at Orlando sprinkler system repair.