Top 7 Ways to Maintain Soil Quality

Maintain soil quality for your trees simply by following this guide. The tendency when evaluating the health of a tree is to look into a tree’s canopy and see if anything looks a little bit off.  This approach makes sense because oftentimes the buds, leaves, and branches will offer clues as to a trees health.  Oftentimes though, the source of the problem lies below the ground.  What is happening above ground is a symptom, the real issue is down below.  

With that being said, here are 7 suggestions to maintain soil quality and ensure the ground underneath a tree’s feet are best taken care of:

  1. Avoid soil compaction

A tree’s roots need oxygen in order to thrive.  If the soil is compacted then the tiny root hairs cannot get oxygen and roots can die off. The soil underneath a tree’s feet is very much alive and active with a wide range of living organisms.  When soil is compacted, oxygen cannot feed these organisms and thereby the tree suffers. 


2. Feed your soil compost 

Think of compost in the same way that the human body thinks of carbohydrates.  Energy released from consuming carbohydrates is released immediately.  It’s that little snack at 3:30pm to get you through to dinner time.  The same goes for compost.  This energy source can be as simple as mulching leaves/grass or can be a light addition of composted manure.


3. Feed your soil mulch 

Now in a slightly different fashion, think of mulch in the same way that the human body thinks of proteins.  They are an excellent source of energy but they take a little longer to break down before that energy can be utilized.  There are many other added benefits to mulch including preventing water loss, increasing curb appeal, and eliminating the need to cut grass in pesky areas underneath the tree.  


tree mulched the right way
tree mulched the right way

4. Water around the trees (particularly young trees) in times of drought.

Water is the basis of life, what more needs to be said :). Water is critical to maintain soil quality.


5. Divert water accordingly

Is most of the water on your property diverted to storm drains?  In most cases, a mature tree is happy to soak up all that water.  Before pursuing this route, we recommend you do a little bit of homework on your tree species and its water requirements.  

6. Get your soil tested

You could take an educated guess as to what nutrients are missing from your soil, or you could get your soil tested.  To learn how to get a proper sample ready for testing, follow this link for steps to test soil.  Most regions have nearby labs either associated with a university or who are privately run that can do a standard test to check for a wide gambit of nutrients.  Be sure the test makes recommendations to properly remediate the soil, otherwise you might as well be handed a sheet of paper in a completely foreign language.


7. Avoid extensive digging within the dripline (radius of the tree canopy)

If digging must be done, ask your contractor if there are ways of minimizing soil excavation and compaction.  A less invasive route to installing pathways/driveway is to explore permeable options similar to the picture below.


If you are in the Hamilton area and you are looking for more information regarding soil quality and how it can affect the trees on your property feel free to call us and one of our certified arborists will be able to further direct your questions. At DeVos Tree Care we believe its important to maintain the health of your trees not only for their well being, but ours as well.

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