Why is my soil so compacted?

The following article posted by Soils Matter Get the Scoop summarizes the concepts behind a battle that I face in my front yard.

My Compacted Soil Challenge

Before I purchased my home, it was in foreclosure for a long time. I live on a corner and locals “cut the corner” by driving across my front yard from the driveway on the east side of the house to the driveway on the west side of my house. Since the intersection in front of my home was flooded after storms, most of the traffic through my yard took place when the soil was wet. By the time I moved in, I couldn’t put a dent in the soil with a rock bar unless it was just after a storm. Then I could penetrate 1/16th of an inch. After each storm, I chipped away what I could.  Over eight years, I put in a vegetated swale, the beginnings of an infiltration basin,

Berms & Swales - 136

berms,

Berms & Swales - 139

and native vegetation. I still chip away a little after each storm. Once weeds and wildflowers (cover crop) become established, I can get a shovel into the soil.

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Eventually, I plan to install rain gardens surrounded by Hugelkulture berms that do not require irrigation.  The following article explains why the highly compacted soil I am working with is such a challenge.

Reblogged Article on Compacted Soil

Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!

Hopefully, the ground in your yard has thawed by now (regrets to those who still have frozen ground!). So why is it that when you try to push your shovel into the soil, it doesn’t budge? If it’s hard for you to push that shovel, it’s even harder for plant roots to penetrate this type of soil.

Soil scientists refer to this as soil compaction, or compressed soil that is reduced in volume. Why does this happen and what can you do about it?

Let’s start with some soil basics. Soils are comprised of three major things – air, water, and solid materials. It might seem counter intuitive but a healthy soil should only have about half of its volume full of the solid materials. The other half should either be empty or consist of water. That empty air space is critical to ensure that gas exchange (carbon dioxide and…

View original post 896 more words

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About Caliche Chick

I retired from a career as an Environmental Scientist and Botanist. My first career was teaching science and English as a Second Language (ESL), and content classes for ESL students at the middle school level. I also taught introductory biology at the community college level. I have an avid interest in plants that grow with little to no irrigation. I also keep a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and back yard chickens. When I am not in my yard, I am taking Construction Technology Classes at Victor Valley College and working on my "fixer upper" home.
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