Research has indicated that about 80% of all plant problems are a result of poor
soil (Patterson et al. 1980). There is a direct correlation between good soil
producing good roots. The ideal soil is a rich, dark, crumbly loam that is at least
12 inches deep. The soil should be made up of about 25 percent water, 50 percent
solid particles (45 percent minerals and 5 percent organics,) and 25 percent air
(Duthie. 2000.) Unfortunately, Metropolitan Chicago soils are predominately
heavy clay and poorly drained. On-site construction compounds the problem as
well as improper bed preparation or the lack thereof. The most critical time to
have good soil is while plants are establishing themselves. Perennials can double
or even triple in size in the first season if the beds in which they are growing are
correctly prepared with sufficient organic matter (DiSabato-Aust. 1998.)
One of the best soil amendments is compost. Compost improves soil texture and structure and provides three main benefits: It will increase soil porosity, allowing for percolation of air and water; it will increase water retention; and it creates a microclimate for beneficial soil organisms, including worms (Duthie. 2000.)
Compost can be anything organic in nature: grass clippings, shredded leaves, coffee grounds, non-animal kitchen scraps, peat moss, partially decomposed bark and mushroom compost are some available forms.
Hinsdale Nurseries, Inc. uses compost called 1-Step Mulch and Soil Conditioner. It is a blend of organic materials (pine products blended with a complex of barkbased components; pH balanced chemicals for Northern soils; proprietary ‘Bark Rite’ fertilizers and Mycorrhizae.) As it is partially decomposed, the damage of high-salts is significantly reduced. The addition of this amendment to your planting beds is a regular practice at Hinsdale Nurseries, Inc. Our goal is to produce top quality results and protect your investment.
In addition to soil preparation, 1-Step can be used as mulch for annual and perennial beds, groundcovers, and landscape beds. A layer of 2”-3” is recommended initially; then depending on maintenance, watering, and weather severity, repeat mulch application one to two years apart. Remember that assuring adequate drainage should be a part of every landscape planting.