University of Maryland Extension

Soils, Fertilizer, and Compost


Photo of soil in hand

Best Practices soil 

Why is soil important for plant growth and health?

Soils provides water, air, nutrients, and mechanical support for plants.

Soils sustain all life on earth and may be the most important, neglected, and least understood resource in the landscape. Soils also tie-up, filter and breakdown natural and man-made toxins.

Soil problems such as compaction, low fertility, poor drainage, and thin topsoil, can cause stress, poor growth, and decline in our garden and landscape plants.

suburban soil 
Poor suburban soil - source: MAPSS/WCSS

The native topsoil has been removed from many urban and suburban soils. These soil are often compacted and low in organic matter. Poor soil management and misuse of fertilizers contributes to surface and ground water pollution.

It’s our job to protect and improve our soils so they can nourish future generations of plants and animals- including humans!


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