How to Choose the Right Soil

Successful plant growth starts with the right type of soil. There are many factors that can impact the quality of soil, which in turn affects plant life. In December, the United Nations highlights the importance of soil preservation through World Soil Day. In honor of this holiday, here’s what you should know about your soil.

Why Is the Right Soil So Important?

Soil composition can vary drastically, and each state has its own unique soil “recipe.” The volcanic ash found in Hawaii’s soil acts as an excellent base for papaya and macadamia nuts, for example, while the decomposed prairie grass of the Midwest is ideal fodder for corn and soy. Most soil, however, is primarily composed of a combination of sand, clay, and silt.

Whether you’re growing a single potted houseplant or planning out your entire landscape design, knowing which soil to use can help your plants thrive. In general, soil provides five functions that support plant growth:

  • Keeping the roots in place
  • Oxygenation (as the spaces between soil particles hold air)
  • Water storage and delivery
  • Temperature control
  • Nutrient supply

While it may seem odd to purchase soil when there’s already plenty in your yard, in many areas, the native soil isn’t ideal for supporting a given variety of plant life. The fact is that most plants can benefit from some soil modifications..

A Guide to Selecting the Right Soil Type

Visiting the soil section in any lawn and garden center can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for guiding your decision when purchasing soil.

If You’re Planting in the Ground

Start by determining where you’ll be planting. Garden soils contain minerals and organic matter, which works best when you’re planting directly in the ground. In such cases, a blend of perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss may be best. These materials have been heated to destroy potentially plant-damaging pathogens. They’re also free from weed seeds, which makes them well-suited for starting plants from their own seeds, when they’re in their most fragile state.

If You’re Planting in a Container

While garden soils are well-suited for planting directly into your landscape, they can become too saturated and compacted when used in containers. For potted plants, use potting soil, which leaves plenty of space for air and also provides nourishment.

Typically, potting mix contains: an organic component, such as compost, bark, or peat moss; an agent to help retain moisture, such as vermiculite or perlite; and, a combination of sand, limestone, and other nutrients.

If You’re Planting Special Species

Garden soil will support most plants in the ground, and potting soil meets the needs of many annuals and vegetables. But certain varieties of vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers may call for specific soil conditions. In these cases, there are specialty soils available that can help to ensure the plants receive optimal blends of nutrients. For example, a soil with shredded bark may help to keep orchids growing strong, since traditional potting soil may hold too much moisture for the flowers. Cacti and succulents may also benefit from a plant-specific potting medium.

Here at Premier Tree Solutions, we understand all of the elements required to help trees thrive from the ground up. Whether you’re seeking removal for an at-risk tree, or pruning services to help your trees stay safe and beautiful, turn to our specialists. To request an estimate, call (404) 353-6448 or reach out to us online.

Where Do Christmas Trees Come From?

Finding the perfect Christmas tree is one of the many joys the holidays bring. When you identify the right one, it feels as if it just belongs in your home. Where do these special Christmas trees get their humble beginnings, before they’re dressed up in tinsel, and setting the backdrop for a cozy December night?

Much like the season itself, their origin story is a bit magical.

The Growing Gift of Christmas Tree Farms

Unless you’re fortunate enough to live near a Christmas tree farm, you likely purchase your tree from a retailer or pop-up lot. But most trees have a long way to go before they reach these destinations.

Prior to the 1930s, most people grew their own trees on their property or cut one down in the wild. Since then, however, tree farms have popped up all across the country, with two main regions producing most of our trees. The Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina produce 1.9 million trees annually, while Clackamas County, Oregon, is a close second with 1.8 million. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are also known for tree production.

Though these are the top producers, all 50 states have their own Christmas tree farms, and together, they’re growing 350 million trees right now. Each year, up to 30 million trees are sold, but for every one that’s harvested, one to three new seedlings will be planted for a Christmas yet to come.

New tree growth is important for keeping up with demand, especially since the average evergreen takes roughly 11 years to reach average height. This timeline can vary significantly by species, however. Douglas and Fraser Firs, for example, reach maturity within six to eight years, but the pines used as Christmas trees in Florida may reach their desired height in as little as three years.

Preparing the Present of Your Tree

Regardless of how long it takes, a lot of love goes into growing Christmas trees, as second-generation tree farmer Ben Butler explains: “Before planting, it is our goal to eliminate all tough-to-manage perennial weeds, adjust the pH to our target range (depending on the tree species), and establish ideal soil fertility for seedlings. This all needs to be done a year (or years) in advance.” Other preparations like grass development are done in the fall, well before  trees are typically planted in the early spring.

As Christmas trees grow, farmers monitor for weeds and pest issues. Most begin the shearing process once trees reach a height of three to four feet. This involves shaping the trees’ branches once the new growth cycle ends in the spring to create the conical tree profile we all know and love.

No matter whether you prefer a tree that’s short and stout, tall and elegant, or in need of some TLC like Charlie Brown’s, there’s simply no substitute for a real Christmas tree. Since nearly all real trees sold in the U.S. are also grown here, buying a real tree means you’ll be supporting the American economy with your purchase. Real trees are also a renewable resource, making them a better option for the environment.

When it’s time to care for the rest of your trees, turn to Premier Tree Solutions. Our specialists offer detail-oriented pruning, maintenance, and removal services to keep your property looking its best. To request a visit, call (404) 252-6448 or contact our team online.