Over time, the ground beneath grass tends to get compacted. This happens primarily because of foot or equipment traffic, such as lawn mowers, periodically putting pressure on it throughout the year. It may also be compacted if it has a heavy composition of clay which is a very dense material.

Compacted soil is bad for plant growth of any kind, including grasses. Plant roots need air to help them breathe, but compacted soil has much of the air squeezed out of it. In addition, many beneficial insects are turned away from soil that has become so dense that they find it difficult to bore through it. In frustration, they seek a more hospitable terrain, possibly in your neighbor's lawn. Over the years as the grass roots get less and less oxygen and nutrients delivered to them because of the impacted soil, your grass slowly begins to suffocate and starve.

So how dense is your soil? A simple way to determine is to take a screwdriver and try pushing it into the dirt. You should do this when the ground is dry. If you get a lot of resistance, then it is probably a sign be a sign that your soil is too densely packed. If the dirt gives way without too much effort, then it's probably ok.

A main feature contributing to packed soil is the lack of humus in the soil. Humus is the material that remains after microbes have finished digesting organic matter such as lawn clippings, decaying plants, food garbage, and so on. After the microbes have finished their work, what is left is a dark moist substance that is incredibly rich in nutrients and trace minerals called humus.

Humus is a bonafide "super food" and by occasionally spreading it on your lawn's surface or mixing it with your lawn's top soil, you can invigorate your entire lawn. Humus regenerates your soil by restoring lose nutrients to it. It is a very spongy material and, in particular if your ground has a high portion of clay, it will decrease the compactness of the soil. Also, contrary to many chemical plant foods, humus won't burn your lawn or other garden plants. It's very difficult to over feed your lawn too much humus.

You can make your own humus if you have the space. It does take time, but with the right tools, it's not difficult. Otherwise, there are many organic garden centers where you can find organic, fully decomposed humus

Soil rich in humus also has another great benefit. It helps to keep your grass roots moist by preventing water evaporating from the lawn. This not only means that you need to water less, but also your lawn will be less susceptible to periods of rain draught. This is especially true if you have a sandy type of soil which tends to have difficulty retaining water.

Many gardeners believe that the high concentration of nutrients in humus that it passes onto the grass, helps the grass to fight off disease and bacteria.

Just like the human body, the health of your lawn is very much dependent on what you feed it. If you feed it junk food, which is what many chemicals are, your grass will grown but it will not be strong. If you feed it humus which is the equivalent of giving it vitamins, minerals and proteins - your lawn will grow to be strong and healthy.

About the Author

Alex Murphy is writer and researcher for http://www.lawncaregurus.com . Visit his site for information about scott's lawn care fertilizers and other lawn care related articles.

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