Garden soil isn’t just dirt. It provides the organic matter needed to maintain the health and support the growth of your plants. It’s when the soil is living and thriving with microorganisms that it can recycle nutrients, capture water, balance its physical condition and defend against pests.

If you’re looking to provide your plants with the best start and improve your garden soil’s health, follow these rules:

Plant to suit the garden soil

If spending the time to improve your garden soil isn’t your thing, then plant varieties to suit the current soil conditions. Trying to grow lettuce in sandy, dry soil will end up being a struggle. Planting natives on the other hand, will be easier. However, when looking for natives, look for varieties that are local to your immediate area.

Feed it

Focus on feeding the soil, not the plants themselves. Think organic material like manure, blood and bone, fallen leaves and kitchen compost. Rather than pulling out the entire plant at the end of a season, leave the roots in the ground cutting the plant off at the soil level. That way, the roots will naturally decay and feed the soil.

Concentrated manurers from sheep or chickens, potassium and mineral phosphorous can be added in between seasons. This allows time for the material to breakdown before the plants require the additional nourishment in seasons such as spring.

Check out more tips to rejuvenate your soil and outdoor space here

Don’t overwork it

Continually turning and digging up your garden’s soil can damage its structure and disturb the microorganisms living within it. While moving your soil does improve air and water flow, go easy when loosening the soil when aerating it to minimise the impact to the life within.

Lay down mulch

Leaving your soil bare can drain it of nutrients and water. Tree prunings, fallen leaves, perennial cuttings and hedge trimmings can all be returned to the ground to feed and nourish the soil. Manure from chooks adds additional nitrogen and phosphorus which will help to break down most of the fibrous material in the mulch.

If you have the space and an unused garden bed, establish a cover group with all your organic material that can be used to regularly mulch your soil.