How to Firm up Soft Soil?

The GardenSpring |

To firm up soft soil, first, ensure that the soil is of good quality and resilient. Soft soil can also affect the progress of a garden or extension project.

So in this article, you’ll discover how to firm up soft soil. Let’s start.

How to Firm up soft soil: Understand the process

To rehabilitate a sodden garden or dry out a wet garden, it is important to understand the processes needed to consolidate the soil and shape it to prevent plant erosion and nutrient loss.

A garden that is constantly wet and muddy not only looks unattractive but also compromises its future use, such as a manicured garden or lawn. The best way to firm up soft soil, therefore, is to work the subsoil and reinforce it with a moisture-regulating medium such as compost or peat.

These methods will be discussed later, but first, we should describe the natural state of the soil and define what peat and compost are.

What is soil made of?

Soil is naturally composed of soil, stones, and other particles that complete its texture. However, its composition varies depending on the location, region, and previous activity.

Some places have loamy or sandy soil, while others have balanced clay soil. However, all the conditions are now in place to improve the composition of the soil by maintaining its condition.

What is peat?

Peat is decomposing plant material normally found in bogs and swamps. In the horticultural world, peat is closely related to a wonderful family of mosses called “snags”. What makes this “peat moss” special is its ability to retain moisture.

If the soil is naturally clayey or muddy, this means that its composition will absorb more water than it can actually hold. This is where the magic of peat comes into play.

When peat is used in soft soils, it not only strengthens the nutrient matrix of the soil itself but also improves its ability to hold water. This is true whether the soil is muddy, sandy, or clayey and of low quality.

In addition, peat stabilizes soil cohesion and consolidates muddy soils without over-consolidating them, thus loosening compacted soils.

Peat moss is therefore highly valued as a “correcting”, “balancing” and “holding” material, which is of utmost importance in horticulture. It doesn’t get any better than this.

What is compost?

Compost is a mixture of materials and components that help improve the nutrient composition of the soil. It usually consists of decomposed food waste, plants, organic material, and compost.

The finished compost product is rich in beneficial microorganisms and nutrients that nourish gardens and lawns.

Combining compost and peat to increase the structural integrity of the soil is a coup, as peat replenishes excess moisture and compost replenishes nutrient deficiencies.

Clay or silt soils are often nutrient deficient and have a “watery” character that is not adequately absorbed by plant roots.

On the other hand, wet and sandy soils are not very helpful either, as their granular nature prevents proper nutrient fixation and distribution. It is also slimy, which is not good for the grasses and trees found in lush gardens.

Steps to consolidate the soft floor

Improving a soft floor is actually quite simple. Below are the steps required to do so.

Limiting irrigation to consolidate soft soil

The point is to completely control the water in the soil. So, if you are really starting from wet soil, you must first limit the water that enters the soil.

Leaky faucets need to be checked, as they will allow too much water into the soil and prevent the soil from compacting. In fact, dripping faucets, sprinklers, and hoses that go unnoticed due to cracks or holes can do more damage than they look.

Even small streams and water drips can be a problem, as the constant flow of water can damage soil structure and lead to waterlogging and mud.

Identify possible measures to improve drainage

External factors other than the soil itself must also be considered. This is essential for large lawns and garden soils as well as potted plants! Just as important as the soil is the drainage. Poor drainage allows water to stagnate and promotes rot, microorganisms, and disease.

Always look for obstructions such as rocks or clods of soil that can interfere with drainage. An amazing number of gardening problems are caused by clogged drains.

You also need to consider the time of year and local weather conditions when draining. If you are in a rainy area, you will have to put a lot of effort into drainage because the seasons are reversed. Dry areas are fortunate in that external precipitation factors are less important.

Determine the consistency needed for your garden and lawn

Although correcting soil texture is a common goal, it is very important to make sure the target density is correct. Some plants, shrubs, and trees prefer a very specific consistency that they need to grow and live. Keep in mind that the right soil composition also plays an important role in the overall strength of the soil.

Advantages of firm soils

Firm, nutrient-rich soil in lawns, gardens, and container plants is favorable for the longevity of plants, shrubs, and trees.

If you have the right soil hardness and fertility, you will have a number of benefits that will help you succeed as a lawn and garden owner.

Below are some of the benefits you can derive from firming your garden soil

Vitality and fertility

Strengthening and enriching your soil with peat and compost will ensure the vitality of your lawn, garden, and container plants. This will reward you with incredibly healthy-looking plants that don’t normally thrive in a growing medium until the soft soil becomes firm.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on pixels

Better anchoring of plant roots

Contrary to popular belief that slightly loose clay soil is not good, it is actually a good growing medium for roots to spread and become firmly anchored.

Compared to sticky soils, such as sandy or muddy soils, a firm but slightly loose soil is ideal for promoting root growth and plant vigor. Firm anchoring reduces erosion and controls drainage well.

Fewer plant diseases

High moisture content in the soil or growing medium can lead to various plant diseases and abnormalities. Not only does this affect the health of affected plants, but it can also promote root rot, encourage the growth of molds and bacteria, and attract insects that prefer a moist environment.

So, solid soil prevents the development of molds and bacteria that will inevitably destroy your valuable plants.

Reduction of environmental pollution

It’s quite obvious. If the soil is too wet, it will stick to everything and leave unsightly stains, which can be very difficult. If the soil is hard but loose, it is easier to clean and dust it if it sticks to clothes, shoes, balconies, and so on.


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de Jauregui, R. (2021, April 12). How to Firm Up Soft Soil. Home Guides | SF Gate.

Seeds, E., & Seeds, E. (2022, March 18). How To Firm Up Soft Ground: When Water Is the Enemy. Evergreen Seeds.,such%20as%20compost%20or%20peat.

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