Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Feb 28
2 min read
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What Does Amend The Soil Mean?

You may have been told by someone, or read somewhere that you should amend your soils. So what exactly does that mean?

You see, soil is much more than a pile of dirt. Soil is made of different components that come together forming a structure that plants can grow in. Soil is a composition of sand, silt, and clay. The different amounts of each material will cause your soil to behave in specific ways. It’s not like it will throw a fit or anything, you just might have trouble with water draining properly.

Sand, silt, and clay are not the only materials that make up your soil. It actually only accounts for 45% of the Soil components. The rest includes 25% water, 25% air, and approximately 5% organic matter. The combination of these components allows for plants to retrieve nutrients and water in their needed proportions. 

The problems come when the actual ratio of your soil is far from the ideal. To help native soils perform better, materials should be added to adjust water holding capacity, drainage, nutrients, and workability. 

The most common materials added to reach these goals are organic matter like mulch or compost, fertilizer, and plants such as cover crops.

Ashleigh Smith's photo

I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.



I just terraced off a large garden on our south east facing slope. It has never been gardened, only wild plants were growing. Since I removed top soil to terrace, and it is a clay type soil and it is tillable with a rototiller. Should I add sand and leaves and pine needles to get it started? Fertilizer too?