How To Amend Yard Soil (EASY Way)

Your soil is your garden’s foundation. It not only provides nutrients for plants and helps retain moisture, but it also supports the complex ecosystem of organisms that make up a healthy yard. 

The best way to improve your soil is by engaging in a few simple practices—and this guide will help you do just that!

How to Amend & Care for Neglected Soil
Key Takeaways
Soil amendment is the process of improving soil quality, structure, and nutrients to ensure healthy plant growth.
Methods to amend soil include adding organic matter, sand or other mineral particles, and soil testing for nutrient deficiencies.
Poor soil quality indicators include slow or stunted plant growth, pooling of water or standing water, and an overly sandy or clay-heavy soil composition.
Experts recommend amending soil every year or two, depending on the quality of the soil and how often plants are grown in it.
Downsides of soil amendment may include a reduction in native soil organisms and over-reliance on synthetic fertilizers.

Test Your Soil

Soil tests are a good way to figure out what kind of amendments your soil needs. You can buy kits at most garden stores, or you can let the county extension office do it for you for free.

You should test your soil once a year (or every few years) and make changes as needed. 

If you’re new to gardening, this is going to be the most time-consuming part of amending your yard soil because there’s no one right answerit depends on what type of garden you want to grow and how much time and effort you want to put into it.

 Proper backyard drainage is crucial for maintaining a lush and healthy yard. You can learn more about effective and affordable ways to achieve better yard drainage by visiting our article on how to add backyard drainage with easy fixes.

Plant A Cover Crop

Cover crops are plants that are grown in place of other plants. They are useful for keeping soil healthy and preventing erosion, but they can also help control weeds and pests, prevent soil compaction, improve soil fertility and even provide food for livestock.

The cover crop you choose depends on the purpose it will serve (preventing erosion? improving nutrient levels?). 

In general, legumes like clover or alfalfa are good at adding nitrogen to the soil while grasses like rye can be used as a mulch or ground cover. 

You can also plant cover crops in fall to provide nutrients over winter before spring planting; this is called “winter-killed” or “winter conservation tillage” because it doesn’t disturb your soil between growing seasons as much as traditional tilling does.

Get Some Manure

If you’re planning on using manure as a part of your soil amendment, make sure it’s the right kind. There are three main types of manure: chicken, cow and horse. 

Chicken manure is good for adding nitrogen to your soil and improving its structure. Cow dung does the same thing and can also help improve drainage in heavy clay soils. 

Horse dung should only be used if the horse was fed grass or hay because otherwise it will contain too much salt for plants to grow well in it.

You’ll want to use about 3-6 inches (7-15 cm) of manure per 100 square feet (10 m²) of garden area depending on how much nitrogen is already present in the soil.

If there’s plenty already available then add less than 6 inches worth so that you don’t overdo it on this element while still getting other benefits from having more organic material around! 

To apply this new layer correctly: spread out evenly as best you can by hand into an even layer across your entire yard space; once done let sit undisturbed for a year before planting anything else over top again (if possible).

 If you’re struggling to keep your yard healthy and green, water retention could be the culprit. Our article on how to absorb water in your backyard provides simple yet effective methods for preventing water accumulation.

Add Compost

Compost is a great way to improve the soil in your yard. It’s made from organic materials that are broken down by bacteria, and it provides nutrients for plants. 

To make compost you need to collect organic materials like vegetable scraps and grass clippings that can be broken down into rich soil. 

If you’d rather not spend time making your own compost, there are plenty of places where you can buy it as well!

When using compost as fertilizer for your garden, apply an inch of new soil on top of the old layer of soil before planting new seeds or seedlings. 

This ensures that there will be plenty of nutrients available for your plants when they start growing in their new environment

Collect Leaves

When fall arrives, your local tree canopy will begin to shed its leaves. These leaves are not just a nuisance; they’re also a great source of nutrients and organic matter that can help amend your soil’s health. 

They can be used as mulch or composted in order to add valuable nutrients back into your yard and garden soil.

Poor yard drainage can cause a multitude of problems, ranging from dead spots to muddy areas. By following the advice in our article on achieving better yard drainage, you can improve the health and appearance of your yard.

Collect Kitchen Waste

It’s time to get your hands dirty! If you live in a rural area, you can collect natural yard soil from the ground and add it directly to your compost pile. 

However, if you live in an urban or suburban area where space is limited, consider collecting organic kitchen waste instead. 

This method can help reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and help the environment by turning food scraps into compost (a nutrient-rich soil amendment).

Incorporate A Layer Of Mulch

Now that your soil is aerated, it’s time to add a layer of mulch.

Mulches are great for improving soil they help retain moisture, prevent weed growth and erosion, protect roots from extreme temperatures and other types of damage, and even add nutrients to the soil as they decompose. 

There are many different types of mulches you can use in your yard or garden; wood chips are probably the most common type because they’re easy to find at home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot. 

Your local hardware store should carry these too and if they don’t have any in stock they can usually order them for you at no extra cost!

You’ll want to apply a layer between two and six inches deep over all parts of your yard except where grass has been intentionally planted (like on sports fields). 

This will keep weeds down while still allowing light through so that grasses can grow properly (but not so much as letting weeds take over). 

If possible try applying this once every season or every other year depending on how often rain falls during those times periods – it depends largely on climate conditions where you live!

Properly calibrated sprinkler heads are essential for maintaining a healthy and lush lawn. Our article on how to adjust yard sprinkler heads provides expert tips on adjusting and maintaining your sprinklers for optimal performance.

Collect Grass Clippings

A good way to boost nitrogen and organic matter is to collect grass clippings. Grass clippings are a great source of nutrients, as they’re high in both nitrogen and carbon (the two main components of soil). 

Most lawns should be mowed every couple weeks during the summer, so you can easily collect your grass clippings instead of using them as compost or mulch.

To use the grass clippings for your yard soil amendment:

To make compost: Add a layer of 2-3 inches of fresh grass clippings on top of the existing compost pile or bin. You can also add it directly into an in-ground composting system that uses worms or other organisms to break down waste materials into fertilizers.

To make a healthy soil amendment for planting beds: Collect about 1/4 cubic yard (or 2 bags) per bed and mix with existing topsoil until thoroughly mixed together. Then spread out this amended topsoil over each bed before planting new plants!

Reuse Old Soil From Potted Plants

If you have potted plants, this is an easy way to amend yard soil. Simply dig up some of the soil from around the base of your potted plant and use it in other parts of your yard. 

You may not have enough topsoil from your yard to fill all areas, but it’s a great start!

If you don’t have any potted plants but would like some fresh soil for your mulch pile or garden, use a shovel to remove some topsoil from around your house foundation. 

Be sure that it isn’t too wet or dry before adding new material so that everything stays balanced!

 Providing your hydroponic plants with essential nutrients is crucial for healthy growth and maximum yield. Check out our guide on how to add nutrients to a hydroponic system for tips and tricks on how to keep your plants healthy and nutrient-rich.

Start A Worm Bin

Worm castings are great for soil. They’re full of nutrients, and they help balance the pH in your yard.

You can start a worm bin by collecting a few worms from your garden (or from the sidewalk or street). 

Put them in a container with moistened soil and some food for them to eat (like coffee grounds) on top. After about three months, you’ll have enough worms to add to your lawn so that it stays healthy!

It takes about two years for your lawn’s soil to build up naturally with worms, but if you want fast results, start a worm bin today!

Invest In Some Rock Dust

Rock dust is a natural source of minerals and nutrients that can be used to replenish the soil in your yard. It’s a great way to add nutrients to the soil, especially for those who have tried all the other methods and haven’t seen results yet. 

Rock dust is also known as “soil conditioner” or “soil amendment.” The most common types of rock dust include:

  • Volcanic ash
  • Basalt rock powder
  • Dolomite limestone powder (a mix of calcium and magnesium)

However, any type of crushed up rock can be used. You might even have some on hand if you’ve ever been on an outdoor adventure! 

To use it, just sprinkle it over your lawn in spring or autumn the best time depends on where you live and what kind of grasses are growing there and let nature do its thing!

Invest in Rock Dust: A Natural Solution to Improve Soil Quality

Benefits of Rock DustTips for Using Rock Dust
Rock dust replenishes soil with essential minerals and nutrients that plants need to grow.Test the soil’s pH level before applying rock dust to ensure proper balance.
Rock dust is a natural, sustainable solution that is environmentally friendly.Apply rock dust to soil when planting new vegetation, then reapply annually.
Rock dust is a slow-release fertilizer that provides long-term benefits to soil health.Mix rock dust into the soil, ensuring even distribution throughout the planting area.
Rock dust can enhance plant growth and increase crop yield, leading to bigger and better harvests.Consider mixing rock dust with other organic soil amendments for maximum soil health benefits.
Rock dust can be used in all types of soil, from sand to clay, and is suitable for all types of plants.Look for rock dust from reputable sources, such as local quarries or garden centers.

Grab A Shovel And Dig Up Some Soil From Your Yard (Or Elsewhere)

To get started, you’ll need to grab some soil. You can collect soil from your yard, or from somewhere else a friend’s yard, the ground in a park, or even your backyard. Just be sure to only take small amounts so that you leave the remaining plants enough soil to thrive!

Mine For Worms In Your Yard

To amend your yard soil, you’ll need to find worms. The easiest way is to look for them in your compost pile and garden. You may also find them in your lawn, flower beds and vegetable garden.

If you have a hard time finding worms on your property, consider collecting some from the ground outside of town where there are fewer pesticides sprayed or fertilizers used. If you can’t do that then just order some from the internet – they’re easy to buy!

Worm-Mining: A Guide to Finding Worms in Your Yard

Benefits of Worms for SoilTips for Finding Worms
Worms mix and aerate soil to create better drainage and oxygen flow.Check your compost pile or vermicomposter for worms.
Worm excretions enrich soil with important nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.Look for worm castings, which are an indicator of worm activity.
Worms can help break down organic matter in the soil into usable nutrients.Dig into your lawn or garden soil, 6-12 inches deep to find worms.
Worms attract predatory insects that can control harmful pests in your yard.Water your soil a few days before worm hunting to make it easier to dig.
Worms are an indicator of healthy, nutrient-rich soil.Check damp areas or those with loose soil, such as flower beds or vegetable gardens.


You now know how to amend your soil for a healthier lawn and garden. As you can see, there are many different options available to you, so don’t feel limited by what we have listed here. 

If one of the methods doesn’t work well with your particular situation, then try experimenting with something else until you find something that works!

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about amending soil and improving your yard or garden, be sure to check out these helpful resources:

How to Fix Clay Soil: An article from BHG that provides helpful tips and advice for working with clay soil.

How to Amend Garden Soil: HGTV offers tips and tricks for improving and amending your garden soil to ensure healthy and abundant plants.

Making Good Soil Out of Bad: This informative article from The Spruce offers practical solutions for transforming poor soil into healthy, nutrient-rich soil for your garden.


What is soil amendment?

Soil amendment is the process of adding materials to your soil to improve its quality, including factors such as structure, nutrients, and water retention.

What materials can be used for soil amendment?

Common materials used in soil amendment include compost, manure, peat moss, straw, sand, and perlite. The choice of material depends on the state of the soil and what needs to be improved.

How often should I amend my soil?

The frequency of soil amendments depends on the soil quality and how often plants are grown in the soil. Usually, gardeners recommend amending soil every year or two, as the nutrients become depleted over time.

How can I tell if my soil needs to be amended?

Some signs that indicate your soil may require amendment include poor drainage, slow plant growth, water pooling, or soil that is overly sandy or heavy in clay.

Are there any downsides to soil amendment?

There can be downsides to soil amendment, such as a reduction in the soil’s native organisms and an over-reliance on artificial fertilizers. It is important to carefully consider the results you want to achieve and the long-term effects of any amendments.