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Fertilizers Vs. Soil Amendments: Which One is Right For Your Lawn & What’s The Difference?

Fertilizers and soil amendments operate in different ways to nourish your lawn. Discover the distinctions between the two and their responsibilities in your turf's health in this article.
4 Minutes
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Your lawn is dependent on soil for food, but today’s soil is not as nutrient-rich as it used to be. Fortunately, additives to your lawn are available in the form of fertilizers and soil amendments. There’s a difference between fertilizers and amendments and choosing the right type of treatment for your soil is crucial. But before we go into those differences…

Let’s Talk Some Dirt!

So, what is soil actually made up of? 

Soil is made up of both living and nonliving organisms. Broken-down rock makes up one portion of the soil. Organic matter, which is made up of decomposing plants and animals, is another kind. Soil also contains water and air. Plantlife is supported by these components, which provide nutrients, water, and oxygen.

The multiple layers, or horizons, of soil, are referred to as the soil profile. Decomposed material, such as leaf litter, makes up the first layer. Organic elements can also be found in the topsoil horizon, which is dark brown to black in color. For plants, this layer is ideal. 

The third horizon of the soil profile, which is mostly sand, silt, and clay, is made up of leaching matter.

What’s The Difference Between Sand, Silt, and Clay?

  • Sand – The largest particle in soil is sand. It has sharp edges and feels rough and gritty. Although sandy soil is low in nutrients, it is excellent for drainage.
  • Silt is a type of material that exists between sand and clay. When dry, silt is smooth and powdery, and when wet, it isn’t sticky.
  • Clay is the tiniest particle that may be found in soil. When dry, clay is smooth, but when wet, it becomes sticky. Clay contains a lot of nutrients, but it doesn’t let enough air and water in. When there is too much clay in the soil, it becomes heavy and unfavorable for plant growth.

When soil is at its best mixture it is called “loam.” This is a mixture of approximately 20% clay, 40% sand, and 40% silt. Loam promotes nutrient retention while still allowing for appropriate drainage. To get your soil closer to this ratio, you may need to add some soil amendments.

Topsoil is frequently confused with loam soil, however, the two are not interchangeable. The phrase “topsoil” refers to the soil’s origin, which is normally the top 12″ (30 cm) of the soil. This topsoil can be largely sand, mostly silt, or mostly clay, depending on where it came from. Purchasing topsoil does not ensure you will receive loamy soil.

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The Role of Soil Amendments

Soil amendments increase the texture of your soil rather than adding nutrients. These materials encourage crumbling, which allows roots to locate food by creating air and water pockets. Roots become deeper and much stronger, while the leaves and stems are allowed to flourish.

In new lawns that are being planted, the soil amendments are mixed into the soil usually before any planting or seeding has taken place. Soil amendments are placed on the surface of existing lawns and watered in to avoid disturbing grasses and other plants.

The Role of Fertilizers

Fertilizers give nutrients without affecting the texture of the soil. Their nutritional materials come in a range of formats and compositions. Each formula is created to provide you with an approach to provide the exact nourishment that each lawn needs. 

For optimal effectiveness, applications are tailored to the lawn’s nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, or NPK, ratio. Using this ratio to treat lawns prevents excess nutrients in certain areas and shortages in others, all while encouraging correct top growth, root strength, and overall healthy development.

Enrich Your Soil with the Help of Turfcor

Understanding the distinctions between these two types of soil-enriching products is the first step toward creating the gorgeous, lush lawn you’ve always desired. Contact Turfcor today and we will evaluate your soil to customize a plan that suits your property’s needs! 

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