Soil Basics 101- Soil and its importance in our lives, lawns and lawncare

Soil and its importance in our lives, lawns and lawncare

So what is soil? Soil is a vast mysterious ecosystem with layers of nutrients and billions of lifeforms. Without healthy soil there would be little to no life on planet earth. Knowing about the impact fertile soil has on human existence is invaluable! It’s where we get our food, our food’s food and our food’s food’s food and …you get the idea. This soil series could never scratch the surface in explaining all about the impact soil has on the planet; we at Portage Turf Specialists  just want our customers to know how much we care about healthy soil in our environment and inform everyone about the importance of protecting this vital resource.

Fig 1:

Soil Profile from soil4kids




What we’re looking at here is called a “soil profile”.





  • O– Humus or organic material- This layer is decomposing plant material like leaves or grass clippings. It’s how the soil is “fed” if you will.
  • A-Top Soil-This layer is where organic material and minerals from lower layers collide. You’ll find many organisms in this layer.
  • E– Eluviated Horizon- This eluviation (leaching) layer is light in color. It is made up mostly of sand and silt, having lost most of its minerals and clay as water drips through the soil (in the process of eluviation). Not many minerals are found at this layer and some soils do not have this layer.
  • B– Sub Soil- This is where the minerals have settled from the top and parent material minerals, where the soil began become locked up. This is the layer we want to access for the healthiest plants.
  • C– Parent Material- The base material at the earth’s surface where soil began to develop.
  • R– This is not a soil level but the rock base that supports the area of land.

Now that you know what “soil” is and what some of its properties are you can start to understand how soil types are determined. There are 12 main soil categories in the US, I won’t list them here, but they are determined by the percentages or ratios of sand, silt, clay and organic material… just to name a few determining factors. Here is the “soil triangle” as a reference:


Unfortunetely for many if not most of our clients we are dealing with no topsoil, due to modern building practices removing beautiful 6-18″ deep  rich organic layer only to attempt to sell it back to you at outrageous prices. Some can afford to replace an inch or so, but who can truly afford to replace it all, when faced with so many other important decisions involving building and decorating a new home. This leaves us at a major disadvantage with a heavily compacted, dead, lifeless, mineral depleted medium in which we are to provide you with an awesome looking lawn.

Farming has been mankind’s main food source since the beginning of time. As population increased people naturally found ways to make feeding the masses more efficient. Land needs to rest to replenish itself. In many cultured there were religious laws that dictated when fields should be cultivated and rested. Irrigation systems were a reality in many primitive cultures. Nutrient replacement from bones, metals and waste were used in very early civilizations.

In short we’ve known for a long time that what we take out of good soil must be replaced. Essentially we must look at lawn care at farming grass crops. My next blog will be about the lawn care industry as a whole over the past 50 years. I’ll explain synthetic mineral replacement, soil testing, pH levels, organic matter and more! Stay tuned!

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Other great Resources for those interested in the importance of soil :

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