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Build Healthy Soil

backyard compost pile backyard compost pile

Recycled Yard Waste

Leaves, flowers and grass all make great compost in a pile or bin.

Soil is often overlooked as an essential element in a balanced, sustainable environment. But healthy soil is critical for good air and water quality and the health of our lawns and gardens. In the Pacific Northwest, the top layer of soil is thin glacial till, not very rich in organics. And in many yards, construction and years of neglect may have removed any trace of healthy soil, leaving only poor soil behind. Adding compost and mulch to soil are the best ways to improve soil health; and improving the soil can actually help Hood Canal chum and Puget Sound Chinook salmon, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act

Feed Your Soil with Compost

  • Spread 1 to 2 inches over garden beds in the spring and fall.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 to 3/4 inch on lawns in the spring or fall.
  • For new garden beds and lawns, dig or rototil in 1 to 4 inches.

Cover Your Soil with Mulch

  • Add a layer of organic material such as leaves, wood chips, compost or grass clippings around your plants in the spring or fall.
  • Keep it about an inch away from stems and trunks.
  • Mulch feeds the soil, conserves water and prevents weeds.

Fertilize moderately with organic products

  • Look for the words "slow-release" or "organic" on the bag.
  • Chemical fertilizers release quickly and can wash off into streams.

Related Information

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Updated: Jul. 18, 2016

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