Improve garden soil - tips for processing

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Earth Doden earthworm

For a magnificent growth of various plants, a good garden soil must store enough water, have a crumbly structure, provide sufficient nutrients and be easy to work with. As a rule, these properties are caused by the mixture of sand, humus, clay and clay. Here, as so often in life, it depends on the mixture. Now not every hobby gardener enjoys a high-quality garden soil. Even if the garden soil does not have ideal properties, it is possible with additives and special admixtures to improve the garden soil.

soil analysis

However, before preparing the garden soil, it should be analyzed and tested for its pH. The following steps are necessary for this:
  • remove a handful of soil from the garden
  • Place in a beaker and mix with water until a semi-solid mass is formed
  • take the mass out of the cup
  • forming a roll on a firm base

Light soil / sandy soil

- is loose, well ventilated and easy to work
- Can not store water and nutrients for long
- produces less humus, as the organic materials are degraded more slowly

Soil improvement for sandy soils

The easiest and cheapest way is to add plenty of humus to the soil. Here is suitable manure, compost or green manure. Of course, kitchen waste or green waste can be used. Another option is the clay mineral bentonite. Incorporated into the sandy soil, bentonite improves the storage capacity of nutrients and water.
Sandy soils can also be treated with green manure plants. Certain plants such as clover, vetch, sunflower, rape or lupins provide shade, enrich the soil with nitrogen and loosen it deeply.

Preferred plant species

  • sea ​​buckthorn
  • heather
  • lilac
  • Amelanchier
  • hazel
  • barberry
  • holly
  • potato
  • radish
  • carrots
  • peas
  • asparagus
  • leek
  • Beetroot

Lilac - syringa

clay soil

  • feels smooth and sticks
  • rubbing creates a shiny surface
  • has a dense and heavy structure
  • Plant roots are spreading
  • Absorption of nutrient salts and water is made more difficult
  • often heats up worse
  • Cover surface after sowing with dark compost

Soil improvement for clay soils

Add humus, shredded material and sand to the clay soil. This makes it looser and lets more water and oxygen through.
It is also advisable to dig deep soils before the onset of winter. As a result, water collects in the cavities.
Freezes the water in winter, it expands and blows up larger clods of earth. This so-called "frostgear" contributes significantly to improving soil quality.
Clay soils with waterlogging are improved with drainage.
Deep-rooted green manure ensures loosening and aeration of soils with high clay content.

Preferred plant species

  • chestnut
  • Black cherry
  • holly
  • hawthorn
  • aster
  • Sneezeweed
  • Sonnenauge
  • Black cohosh
  • cherry laurel
  • roses
  • Cane fruit
  • fruit trees
  • potato
  • zucchini
  • cabbage
  • cucumber


clay soil

  • offers optimal conditions with good care
  • is smooth and supple
  • permeable
  • does not stick and forms well into a sausage
  • loose and nutritious

Soil improvement for clay soils

Before the first frost, the loam soil is dug up, so that the loosened loam pieces can burst in frost and the garden soil is so looser. At the same time sand is incorporated into the clay soil or at least distributed on the loamy soil. Sand makes the soil a lot more permeable. If flowers are to be planted, the soil must be enriched with compost. This not only creates cavities, but also supplies the soil with nutrients at the same time.
If the vegetables outweigh, a green manure is made during the vegetable-free time. Here, sunflowers and lupins are an obvious choice, as their roots penetrate deep into the earth's layers. Just before the seeds are ripe, they mow. The clippings remain on the ground until it is dug again before the first frost.


  • lilac
  • snowball
  • fat chicken
  • hazelnut
  • ivy
  • Hellebore
  • Kirschbaum
  • laurel
  • plum tree
  • potatoes
  • carrots

Climbing ivy - Hedera helix


The typical bog floor can be easily recognized by its dark brown to almost black color. It consists for the most part of organic matter such as plant remains, which are partly rotten. A marshy soil is often quite nutrient-poor and has a low pH. Therefore, there are only a few plants that can cope with such an acidic soil.

Soil improvement for peat soils

The goal of soil improvement is to raise the pH and thus increase the nutrient content.
In order to simultaneously increase the storage capacity of the nutrients, rock flour or bentonite is introduced into the soil.
Additional limescale also raise the pH. If the value continues to be less than 5.0 after a lime once, it will be limed again.
Required trace elements and nutrients can be released into the soil through the application of compost and deposited manure.

Preferred plant species

  • azaleas
  • rhododendrons
  • ferns
  • hydrangeas
  • laurel
  • Lavendelheide
  • cranberry
  • native orchid species

Lavender with butterfly

Among the vegetables is only rhubarb, which copes with extremely acid soil.

Test soil pH with soil sample

In general, plants thrive best at a pH of 5 to a maximum of 7.5. Lower values ​​lead to deficiency symptoms and diseases in most plants. Exceptions are moor bed plants, azaleas and rhododendrons.
These prefer a pH of 4.0 to 4.5. Lime-loving plants such as Clematis or Buchs require a pH above 7.0. To maintain the optimum value, it is advisable to lime every other year.

How is the pH tested?

Commercially special test strips are available to measure the pH.
  • acid soil: pH below 5.5
  • Neutral soil: pH exactly 7
  • Alkaline soil: pH above 7
Different pH values ​​are also sought for the different soil types:
  • Sandy soil: pH of 5.5
  • middle soil: pH from 6 to 6.5
  • Heavy clay and loam soil: pH 7.2

frequently asked Questions

How can the water retention capacity of sandy soils be improved?
Sandy soils can be improved by adding bentonite. If the organic clay mineral is too expensive, you can alternatively use loam or use bentonite-based mineral and non-clumping cat litter.
Can I incorporate straw and soil in addition to manure?
Straw is by no means recommended, as it is rapidly decomposed by millions of microorganisms. These multiply so much that they withdraw nitrogen from the soil and show deficiency symptoms in the plant.

Video Board: How to Make High Quality Compost from Plants for Your Organic Garden.

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