Posted: August 23, 2015

Let's define soil compaction is when pressure applied to soil closes any air spaces between the individual soil particles. Should this matter for your lawn care? According to our experts at Maier Tree & Lawn, that depends on many factors in southeastern Minnesota.

How can you tell when your soil is compacted?

If you take a sharp object like a screwdriver and push it into the soil with ease, then your soil is not severely compacted. The more difficult it is to puncture the soil, the more compacted the soil is.

What causes soil compaction?

The degree to which soil gets compacted depends on the soil type, the pressure involved, the depth of the surface layer, the subsoil type and depth, the weather elements, etc. Anything that puts pressure on soil can compact it to varying degrees: raindrops, foot traffic, vehicles, carts, tillage implements, livestock, tractors, and other heavy equipment.

Some soils, such as those containing a lot of clay, are more prone to compaction than others. Soil is more prone to compaction when very wet. That is why it is always best to avoid storing large or heavy equipment on your lawn after a recent rain shower.

What are the effects of soil compaction?

Some compaction may be beneficial in some cases. For example, if you've ever planted a seed only to have it sprout into a seedling that dislodges whenever you water it, you may want to apply just enough pressure so the soil connects with the seedling's roots to offer support.

Some soil compaction may decrease water loss by evaporation.

Too much compaction, however, will make it very difficult for the roots to penetrate the soil. Reduced levels of oxygen in compacted soils can kill roots, which is why tree roots can sometimes be seen on the surface of your lawn.

Excessive soil compaction in southeastern Minnesota also inhibits a plant's ability to get the nutrients and water it needs.

What can you do about soil compaction?

Avoid working on your soil when it's too wet or too dry. The more often you work your soil, the greater chance it will compact. To correct excessive compaction you can aerate your lawn, and you can also use organic materials like compost, peat moss, or gypsum to loosen it up.

Don't let soil compaction cause a problem for your lawn care. Call us today for a solution. We can save you time because we already have all the experts on hand at Maier Tree & Lawn ready to serve you in southeastern Minnesota.

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