What’s in my soil? The top 3 macronutrients for healthy plants.
Want a healthy lawn and happy trees? Then you have to focus on building a healthy soil.
Want a healthy lawn and happy trees? Then you have to focus on building healthy soil. There’s just no way around it! Just like a strong foundation is important to the structural integrity of your home, such is strong soil for strong landscapes. In fact, without healthy, bioactive soil, a sustainable food system simply can’t exist. Soil is so important that 2015 has been designated as the International Year of Soil! #IYS2015
Soil is complex. It’s easy to think of soil as just dirt we walk on. In reality, soil is more like a living organism. It is made up of microbes, mycorrhizal fungi and other living organisms, in addition to a variety of chemical elements. Some of these elements are required by our plants in larger quantities than others. Excesses of some element can harm or plants. It’s all about balance!
Depending on where you live, your soil will have it’s own unique composition. Even every individual landscape can have variations in the types and levels of elements found in the soil. A soil test and our Soil Building program maintains the proper levels of these chemical elements in your soil.
There are 6 elements in soil, called “macronutrients”, that are most important to healthy plants. The three most important of these macronutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. You’ll often see these nutrients represented as an “N-P-K” ratio on your fertilizer bags.
So, what do these Top 3 macronutrients do for your lawn and landscape?
Nitrogen (N) is incredibly important to plant growth and depending on the season, is needed in healthy quantities for new green growth. Nitrogen is crucial to the building of protein and enzymes as well as generating and moving around energy within plants. Nitrogen is also part of the chlorophyll molecule, which is responsible for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is how plants make sugars and starches for energy. Without enough Nitrogen, your lawn and landscape simply can’t grow!
Phosphorus (P) Like Nitrogen, Phosphorus is a crucial part of photosynthesis and the formation of sugars and starches used for energy. Phosphorus stimulates plant growth early on and ensures timely growth through maturity. It also impacts root growth and flower production. While our native soils can often contain high levels of Phosphorus, it’s often bound up and unavailable to our plants. Healthy microbes are needed to release it.
Potassium (K) Plants need Potassium for structural integrity, strong reproduction and fruit quality. Potassium also aids in efficient water uptake. Without enough Potassium in the soil, roots become weak, plants can be stunted and harvests limited. Good levels of Potassium also help plants resist and survive pests and diseases.
When your soil lacks these important macronutrients, your lawn and landscape suffers. Could your soil be lacking one of these necessary elements? While certain plant characteristics can signal deficiencies or excesses of these macronutrients in your soil, only a soil test will give you specific details.
We always recommend a soil test when you’re shifting over to an organic lawn maintenance program. That way you can see what your starting point is for nutrient levels in your soil. It’s also a good idea to perform follow up tests if landscape plants are showing stress.