5 Tip On Soil

Some soils are better for growing plants than others. The terms rich and poor, good and bad, fertile and infertile are commonly used to describe these differences. The quality of the soil in your garden largely depends on the type of parent rock from which it is formed, on the influence of climate over hundreds of thousands of years and on what your house builder and previous owners have done to it. It is remarkable how much poor soils can be improved if you learn to manage them properly.


Aged animal manure, leaf mould, spent mushroom compost, garden compost and green manure crops are all excellent additives when dug into the soil. Animal manures are probably the best because they contain useful quantities of nutrients as well. Animal manures and mushroom compost are readily available in bags and sometimes in bulk. Composted ‘green waste’ is also readily available, or you can make your own compost.

All organic materials will eventually decompose in soil and therefore must be renewed from time to time, especially in annual flower and vegetable beds that are continually cultivated. Clay soils benefit from organic matter too, because it improves their structure by binding clay particles into crumbs; this allows better air and water movement. By adding coarse sand to heavy soils you can make a permanent improvement in their texture. Spread the sand to a depth of 5–8 cm, then mix well into the topsoil to a depth of 15–20 cm.

Gypsum can be incorporated into clay soil and in most cases, will help the soil to function more effectively. Add gypsum at a rate of about 0.5–1 kg per square metre of soil. The crumb structure of clay and clay loam are destroyed if they are dug when too wet. Allow the soil to dry out for a day or two before digging. When cultivating any soil, only dig the topsoil. Do not dig so deeply as to bring subsoil (especially clay) to the surface.

1. Splurge as much as possible

A great rule of thumb when it comes to potting mix is it’s worth spending a bit more.

Ditch the cheap bags of potting mix for the best quality you can afford. The investment will be worth it when you see your plants flourish.

2. Use organic mulches

Mulch helps reduce moisture loss from soil, protects the soil from exposure to the elements and reduces weed growth.

Organic mulches like pea straw, leaf litter and wood chips provide all these benefits in addition to breaking down over time and adding beneficial organic matter to the soil.

3. Encourage earthworms

Earthworms help break down organic matter into nutrients and minerals that plants can use. The organic matter they recycle is a great source of food for your plants and a natural fertiliser in the garden.

Earthworms also move around creating tunnels and aerating the soil, making it easier for plant roots to grow and access water.

4. Make your own compost

Compost is a fantastic soil improver, and it’s easy to make your own. By layering different organic materials and then ‘baking’ (or composting in this case), you’ll be making your own organic soil improver and plant fertiliser. Have a look at our guide on How to make compost.

5. Use organic soil improvers and plant fertilisers

Organic soil improvers, such as Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food contain organic matter, and when used regularly will help raise the organic matter content of the soil, which improves soil health and brings your soil to life.

Organic soil improvers and plant fertilisers also help improve the moisture and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soil and the drainage of heavy clay soil.


Related products

Yates Premium Potting Mix

A premium potting mix, ideal for all potted plants and shrubs, including ornamentals, fruit trees, vegies and herbs.


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