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Soil Quality















































Composting and Soil Quality:

Composting is nature's process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. Anything that was once living will decompose. Basically, backyard composting is an acceleration of the same process nature uses.


By composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. When the compost is ready, it looks like soil–dark brown, crumbly and smells like a forest floor.   


Composting can be done in a small space with little time involved. Composting leaves, plants, and selected domestic wastes is a great way to enhance soil productivity and reduce refuse costs.


For more information about Composting:


  • The St. Joseph County SWCD provides composting workshops on a regular basis.  Contact us to see when the next one is scheduled, or ask about having our staff provide a composting workshop for your group. 



Soil Testing and Soil Quality:

Evaluating the nutrient status of your soil is an important step in developing a quality turf. The best way to find out what your soil needs to nourish healthy turf is to test it.  Most soil testing labs recommend that you check the status of your soil every three to five years. 


Soil testing:

  • Saves money by avoiding over application of costly fertilizer

  • Instructs homeowners how to fertilize for optimal health of lawn or garden.  

  • Reduces polluted runoff


The results of a soil test will answer four critical questions:

  • What nutrients does my soil need?  

  • What type of fertilizer should I use?  

  • How much fertilizer should I use?  

  • How often should I fertilize?


 There are a couple of different ways to test your soil. READ MORE...

Mulching and Soil Quality

Mulching leaves or grass clippings into the soil is another alternative to bagging. Some benefits of mulching include:


  • Mulching is a saving device for the gardener. A layer of mulch will help prevent the germination of many weed seeds, reducing the need for cultivation or the use of herbicides.

  • Mulches also help moderate the soil temperature and retain moisture during dry weather, reducing the need for watering.

  • Mulches protect the soil from the impact of raindrops that can cause crusting. Crusting can prevent the germination of seedlings.

  • Mulch not only keeps soil nutrients from being washed away with the rain, but it also can release nutrients into the soil if you are using an organic material. This happens as the organic material slowly decomposes on top of the soil.

  • By using organic material for mulching, this can encourage earthworms to occupy your garden soil. In turn, earthworms help improve soil structure and nutrient cycling.

  • Mulching can give your garden an attractive, finished look by filling in the empty spaces. Mulch is easy to care for and doesn't compete with your other plants. Alternatively, grass and other fillers may take extensive care, such as mowing and watering, and may compete with your other garden plants,     


For more information about Mulching:




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