What is Healthy Soil?

A Healthy Soil…

Controls Flooding • Reduces Stormwater Runoff • Filters Pollutants • Helps Nutrient Cycling Supports Healthy Landscapes • Grows Healthy Food • Captures Carbon

How do I know if my soil is healthy?

The New Jersey Soil Health Assessment Guide is a tool for homeowners and landscapers to evaluate the health of their soil. Whether you are a homeowner or a professional landscaper, here are a six easy things you can do for healthy soil and landscapes.

1. Test your soil. The Rutgers University Soil Testing Lab can provide chemical analysis; contact your local Extension office to learn more.

2. Add organic material. Some counties and municipalities offer compost or leaf mulch free for residents.

3. Mulch regularly. Mulching reduces weed populations and conserves moisture in the soil.

4. Avoid adding chemicals. In a healthy soil, beneficial organisms can take care of some pests or problems.

5. Reduce/Minimize watering. A well planned landscape includes sustainable watering practices.

6. Plant a native landscape. Native plants have evolved over thousands of years to be adapted to conditions in a particular region and to the other plants and animals around them.

Healthy Soil Is At The Root Of Everything!

Sick of your boring garden? Tired of buying plants from the local “big box” store only to have them die? Discover why gardening with native plants is the answer, and find out how native wildflowers can become the star of your garden! Beyond beauty, these plants will attract more wildlife while standing up to drought, bugs and bad soil! The Soil Health Improvement Project SHIP can be experienced along the Plant Discovery Trail and includes 6 demonstration gardens for all types of growing conditions!

Find out more about all of these healthy landscaping techniques in the Low Maintenance Landscaping for the Barnegat Bay Watershed. The Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in the Barnegat Bay Watershed offers a visual list of garden perennials, grasses, trees and shrubs that are well-adapted to the environmental conditions of Ocean County. 

Visit the Jersey-Friendly Demonstration Gardens at Jakes Branch County Park page to see examples of native gardens for different yard conditions!

Why Protecting Soil Health is Important

Soil is a combination of air, water, decayed plant residue, organic matter from living and dead organisms, and minerals such as sand, silt and clay – all components that are altered in some way as land development continues.  Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops, lush lawns, forests, productive grazing land, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes.  Soil is made of life and it gives life. View the videos below to learn more.

New Jersey Soil Health Assessment Guide