University of Maryland Extension

Soils, Fertilizer, and Compost

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 Best Practices

Photo of soil in hand

Why is soil important for plant growth and health?

Soils provide water, air, nutrients, and mechanical support for plants. Soils also tie-up, filter, and break down natural and man-made toxins. Soils sustain all life on Earth and may be the most important, neglected, and least understood resource in the landscape. 

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.

The native topsoil has been removed from many urban and suburban soils. These soils 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!

suburban soil 
Poor suburban soil - source: MAPSS/WCSS


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