Tag Archives: Garden Soil

Conserve Water by Improving Your Soil Quality

Garden Soil vs. Potting Soil

It’s hot in Utah, and very dry right now. You’ve probably heard our news stories about lakes and reservoirs already sitting at alarmingly low levels. Pineview Reservoir is currently registering 18 feet below normal for this time of year, and Lake Powell is hitting historic lows. KSL News interviewed Riley Olsen with Weber Basin who says: “We had a quite bad snowpack, it wasn’t historic lows, but it definitely wasn’t good.” Because of the poor snowpack, soil moisture levels are not good either. Olsen explains that “when that snow’s melting, it’s just going straight into the ground. Not much of the melt is making it to the reservoirs.” Olsen’s advice for Utahns is “do everything can to conserve every drop.”

Utah has promoted wise watering for years, but are you doing your part to slow the flow and save H2O? Long, deep watering cycles (not daily) are better for your plants and lawn and our waterways. Also, try to water before 10am so roots can absorb the water before the hot sun peaks. If you’re already doing this, what else can you do? Well, that’s where we come in. The right soil and some good mulch can make a world of difference.

Boost Soil and Use Mulch

High quality soil is imperative to water conservation. You don’t want irrigation water and what little rain we get to run off and not be absorbed into the places you want. Quality soil allows for this absorption, going deep into the ground where the roots are taking hold. Deeper roots mean healthier plants and less watering. Reducing soil erosion and lessening the need for pesticides and fertilizer are also benefits to using a rich, quality soil. Incorporate organic compost with a premium blend of products, such as alfalfa, grain by-products, straw, and compressed steer manure to boost poor quality native soils and promote better water retention by loosening compacted soils.

Another great water-wise landscaping technique is the proper use of mulch. Organic mulch aids in the reduction of evaporation around your flowers and plants. Boost this with a drip system and you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing you’re maximizing efforts to conserve in our desert community. Not only is mulch a beautiful topper, but when you apply 3 to 4 inches in your beds or gardens, it will help keep out weeds and retain moisture for those thirsty plants.

Some other quick tips to being water wise are to fix any leaks you see quickly, stay on top of weeding so water doesn’t go to unnecessary plants, adjust your mower to a higher setting to shade your grass and promote a deeper root system, and even wash your dog outside and close to flowers or an area that’s dry in your lawn—your dog will love the cool water during the summer, too.

Being water wise doesn’t mean you need to xeriscape your entire yard. With a few smart switches, you can have a beautiful, green, water wise yard all summer long. At The Dirt Bag, we sell the highest quality soil prep, organic composts, and mulch options to maximize your conservation efforts.

Spring is in Full Swing, but it’s Not Too Late to Plant!

Garden Soil Plus for Spring Planting from The Dirt Bag
Garden Soil Plus for Spring Flower & Garden Beds

Springtime in Utah is tricky, with drastic temperature changes sometimes every other day! It’s hard to know when it’s safe to plant your garden, but the rule of thumb for Northern Utah is everything should be good if planted after Mother’s Day. Although that was a couple of weeks ago, you’re not too late to get that garden started. If your seedlings are still growing in your window, it’s time to get them outside.

Prep Your Flower & Garden Beds

Spring cleaning is on everyone’s list this time of year. Sometimes it’s hard to make the outside of your home as big of a priority as the inside. But you’ll want to have those BBQs soon, which means you’ll also want your yard ready and beautiful. Prep your garden area now so you can plant your veggies and enjoy that homemade salsa at your party later this summer. Clean out the dead debris in your beds and garden and remove any leftover veggies that died throughout the winter. Raking up dead leaves and pulling out dead annuals will help with the new plants you want to grow this year. The prep work is never the fun work, but it’s necessary for creating a beautiful yard and for growing healthy vegetables. 

Boost Your Soil

After you have cleared out your yard and cleaned out your garden areas and flower beds, the next best thing is to prepare your soil to give your veggies and flowers a fresh and healthy start. Our organic mountain compost is on sale right now and is an excellent custom blend that is ideal for depleted native soils. It contains alfalfa, grain by-products, straw, black peat, forest hummus, and compressed steer manure for maximum yield. This perfected blend allows for reduced use of fertilizer and pesticides while stabilizing nutrients in the soil and increasing water retention. Remember, a high-quality compost such as ours is recommended to amend depleted, existing soil, not as a stand-alone planting mix. You can also use our compost on the surface of your bed to keep it looking beautiful and rich all summer. 

Another great option is our bagged garden soil plus. This premium soil is the best available and is perfect for your veggie garden, flower beds, or a planter box. Our soil is filled with helpful microbes that are crucial to plant growth and is 100% organic with no added fertilizers or chemicals. This soil is ready to go, meaning you can plant your vegetables and flowers directly into this healthy, rich soil to start your garden off right. 

A superior compost added to depleted soil is necessary for a good vegetable yield, and using high-quality soil is a must-have addition to any garden. Not sure what you need this year? Contact us today—our friendly, knowledgeable staff is at the ready to answer all your questions. We also deliver anywhere throughout the Salt Lake valley. We offer bagged products and bulk products, so any project you have in mind can be addressed with The Dirt Bag.

Soil vs. Sand

Is your landscaping project better suited for sand, soil, or a combination of both? Ultimately, sand is a type of soil, as is peat, silt, loam, and clay. All of these soils are created when rocks are broken up, usually by natural forces like salts, wind, or water. Soil is actually a pretty broad definition, especially in the world of landscaping, and refers to the top layer of the earth. However, sand is unique because it’s made up entirely of rocks and sometimes mineral grains. 

Sand is formed when these mineral particles and rocks are finely and somewhat evenly divided. Sand is different in various parts of the world but is generally comprised of calcium carbonate, silica, and a variety of other materials. A single grain of sand is non-porous, so it doesn’t hold water. However, sand particles have plenty of space between them to allow for free-flowing air passage. Soil is different because it’s mostly comprised of organic matter from plants and animals that live in or use the soil. Soil is porous, so it holds water and the little particles that make up soil are packed tightly together. Soil can be penetrated less easily than sand, so water can even sit on top of it.

Why Use Sand?

Sand can be a fantastic choice for many landscaping projects. One of the most common uses is in between pavers. Sand has a leveling quality so that pavers don’t break or move as easily. You can also use sand to create concrete for walkways, edging, outdoor patios, and much more. Of course, sand is also a popular choice to create play areas like a sandbox. Sand might also be your best bet to go under play areas to allow for a soft landing. Many sports areas are created largely with sand, using pavers or wood as the “rim.”

Alternatively, garden soil is designed to nurture certain kinds of veggies, flowers, or herbs. The exact soil makeup for your yard or garden will depend on what types of plants you want to support. There’s also “black dirt,” which isn’t the best choice for plants but can be a great option for filling in areas, prepping yards for sod, or making walkways. Black dirt has an especially large amount of organic material from plants. “Compost” is the term for organic material that has decomposed. It’s not an alternative for soil or black dirt, but rather an additive. Compost can be made of animal or plant material (or both) and is full of nutrients to make the soil even healthier for plants.

Making Your Decision

Sand is a type of soil, and all types of soil have various benefits depending on your goals. It’s very common for gardeners and homeowners to select a variety of different soils for various parts of their yard and gardening projects. Within these subsets of soils (such as sand or compost), there is also a myriad of additional types. The Dirt Bag will work with you to determine your needs and design an order just for you.

Soil for Your Garden Bed

The Dirt Bag Garden Soil
Garden Soil West Jordan, Utah

A raised garden bed is a beautiful addition to any yard and can increase a home’s curb appeal dramatically. However, before you start planting and gardening, you need to consider what type of soil to use in these beds, and The Dirt Bag can help. Besides looking gorgeous, a huge perk of a raised garden bed is having complete control over the soil (and mulch in some cases). For those who have a yard with especially tough soil in which to grow vegetables and flowers, garden beds are even better. You don’t have to worry about dealing with clay soil, pollutants in the dirt, or any issues with tree roots. Great soil is the key to a healthy garden, so choosing the best topsoil for a gardening bed is a big decision.

Although you can get garden beds in various sizes, the best are usually between six and eight feet long, between three and four feet wide, and up to about one foot tall. This gives you the perfect dimensions to plant, weed, sow, and of course, you can do all of this from the comfort of the bedside. The soil in a bed stays loose and resists becoming hard-packed (particularly from footsteps which you no longer have to worry about). Before figuring out the kind of soil you want, you also need to consider how much you’ll need—and it’s always more than you think. Many gardeners opt for soil delivery (which is free at The Dirt Bag), but smaller beds may be able to get filled with bag purchases.

Fill ‘er Up with Soil

Gardeners who remove the bottom part of a raised bed might want to uproot the grass and flip it over. It will break down over time and also help reduce the amount of soil you’ll need to purchase. The exact best soil mix for you will vary based on your region and what you want to grow, but many gardeners choose a triple mix (topsoil, peat moss/black loam, and compost). A direct 50/50 variation is one of the most popular picks in the US, which blends topsoil with compost. It’s important to know exactly where your soil is coming from since you don’t want topsoil that’s been sitting for a long time with its nutrients leaking out (don’t worry—at The Dirt Bag, that’s never a problem).

Some other soil providers get their topsoil from various new subdivisions being built. This is low-quality soil that doesn’t belong in your garden. However, if you’re purchasing bags of topsoil, look for labels that say “organic vegetable” or “herb mix” that’s designed for growing veggies and flowers. You might want to fill your beds almost to the top with your customized mix, then top it with a bit of compost. Make sure your compost is also organic vegetable compost. If you don’t already create compost yourself, getting a raised garden bed is the perfect excuse to start. You can always top off your beds with your very own compost to help direct more nutrients into the soil. Find out more about soil and compost for raised beds by calling The Dirt Bag today.