Are Soil Microorganisms Important for Plant Health?

When biologically active microorganisms are present in your soil, they help break down organic matter and replenish your soil with nutrients to improve its quality and structure. This helps plants and grass grow stronger and taller, while warding off the potential for disease and pest infestations.

Waste of aeration technique used in the upkeep of lawns and turf. Lawn maintenance. Illustration for article, infographics or instruction. Stock vector

Soil microorganisms can be grouped into bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae, protozoa and nematodes. Apart from the dead plant or animal residues in soils, soil organic matter is composed of a significant amount of living microorganisms and their dead fractions.

But your plants and grass can’t thrive on microbial activity alone. So, let’s take a look at some of the reasons soil microorganisms are important for plant health and fertilization’s role in making this happen. 

The Importance of Soil Microorganisms

Soil microorganisms play an essential role in decomposing organic matter, cycling nutrients and fertilizing your soil. They also help make up and produce soil organic carbon, which locks carbon into the soil for long periods of time and improves your soil’s fertility and water-retaining capacity.

grass with roots and soil

Soil microbes are also important for the development of healthy soil structure. They cement soil aggregates, which keep your soil from crumbling when exposed to water. And fungal filaments are like threads that surround the aggregates like a hairnet — holding it together.

Soil microorganisms, and fungi, in particular, can also be harnessed to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil. Bacteria and fungi are decomposers, so soil microorganisms may provide a way to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gasses and help to limit the impact of greenhouse gas-induced climate change.

How To Keep Your Soil Microorganisms Healthy

Beneficial soil microbes are living organisms. And like most living organisms, they need a few things to live, including:   

Without all of these critical elements in your soil, your plants and grass would not be able to survive and grow.

But there are ways to ensure you soil microorganisms are getting all of the nutrients they need, and you don’t need to know a lot about soil science, just the basics. They include:

  • Aeration: Core aeration opens your soil, allowing more air and water to reach the roots. This is especially important if your soil is compacted. Soil aeration can enhance the activities of the three rhizosphere soil enzymes. Plant rhizosphere is the soil nearest to the plant root system where roots release large quantities of metabolites from living root hairs or fibrous root systems. This aids plant growth.
  • Balance pH Level: Most beneficial bacteria thrive best in neutral to near-neutral pH (6.5 – 8), but some thrive in very acid conditions and some can even tolerate a pH as low as 1.0.
  • Watering Deeply: Soil health and watering go hand in hand. Deeply watering (at least an inch and a half) gets moisture deeper into your soil and keeps the microbial communities happy. Soil with higher moisture content also tends to have a higher CO2 release. 
  • Soil Temperature: The hottest part of the summer is the busiest time for microbes. Soil microbes thrive most in 70- to 90-degree temperatures. Soil temperature alters the rate of organic matter decomposition and mineralization of different organic materials. It also affects soil water content, its conductivity and availability to plants.   
  • Available Carbon: The majority of available carbon consumed by soil microbes comes from shed roots, decomposing organisms, clippings, and fallen leaves. Soil organic carbon tends to be concentrated in the topsoil. Topsoil ranges from 0.5% to 3.0% organic carbon for most upland soils. Soils with less than 0.5% organic C are mostly limited to desert areas. Soils containing greater than 12%-18% organic carbon are generally classified as organic soils. Adding compost to your garden can help since carbon is the primary energy source for microorganisms, they need lots of organic matter to thrive. The same goes for mulching.
  • Mycorrhizal Fungi: Up to this point, we’ve been talking a lot about soil bacteria. You’ll need an ample level in your solid because this fungus attaches directly to the roots and funnels nutrients to them. It is often lacking, especially on newer lawn where the soil is not good. You can actually buy mycorrhizal fungi and apply them to your soil. It comes in gel form as a bare root dip, made into a liquid for soil injection. It can also be applied as a soil drench.

Didn’t know there was so much going on in your soil, did you? The fact is, all of these elements are working together. To keep grass and plant diseases at bay, they all should be functioning at optimum levels. 

Fertilization’s Role

Fertilization is an important part of what attracts beneficial microbes in the first place. When you think about fertilizer applications, you probably connect those nutrients to improved plant growth. But these nutrients are available to all organisms in the soil system, including the microbes. 

fertilizer for grass
feeding lawn with granular fertilizer for perfect green grass

One study found that manure increased soil organic carbon for all the measured soil depths compared to inorganic fertilizer and control treatments. Remember, more carbon means better soil structure. The study also found manure significantly increased total nitrogen compared to fertilizer treatments.

Lush Lawn Can Help

It’s important to apply the right amount of fertilizer to your lawn or plants. Overusing chemical fertilizers can actually decrease organic matter in the soil. 

At Lush Lawn, we are proud to help Southeast Michigan homeowners keep their lawns thriving. 

Our services include: 

  • Lawn health evaluation and diagnosis
  • Treatment programs for soil health
  • Aeration to break up compacted soil

It’s a three-step process for optimum soil health. 

Lawn Health Evaluation

One health issue with your lawn can snowball into myriad problems. Our experts will diagnose your lawn to ensure your soil is providing all of the nutrients it needs.

Soil Health Treatments

Our soil health treatment programs include:

  • Soil Sweetener Program that’s designed to balance the pH level of your soil.
  • Soil Fertility Program that increases specific nutrient levels in your soil. 
  • Soil Balancer Program can help to bring soil pH levels down (if needed).

Once your soil is tested we’ll be able to determine which of our soil treatment programs is best suited to the lawn care needs of your property.

Core Aeration Services

We use our state-of-the-art equipment to ensure optimal results. Our core aeration services will give your lawn the room it needs to absorb nutrients and eliminate areas of standing water that can lead to lawn diseases and attract mosquitos. 

lawn aeration

We recommend at least one core aeration service in the spring or fall, and even better if you’re able to aerate twice per season.

Want to make sure your lawn is ready for summer? Request a free quote today.

Avoid Summer Lawn Diseases!

 

Lawn Disease: What You Need To Know

  • Don’t cut it too short – One common mistake made by both homeowners and some commercial summer lawn maintenance companies is cutting a lawn too short. If a lawn is cut too short, it reduces the plants’ ability to produce energy for growth. When cut at the proper height, however, grass develops stronger roots that support more vigorous plants that are able to handle stress better.
  • Limit the Water Intake – While it is important to be adequate on hydration, do not water the grass daily. Lawns need only one-inch of water per week, including rainfall.
  • Drought Scenario – Avoid mowing the lawn during drought stress. Lawns under such stress are limited in their ability to recover from mowing and can be damaged even more. Instead, mow the grass after a rainfall or after irrigation day. Also, resist mowing wet grass to avoid clumping.
  • Maintain Sharp Blades –When grass is cut with a sharp mower blade, the plant will heal faster than when cut with a dull blade. Dull blades will actually tear the plant tissue, not cut it. This torn grass tissue will develop a brown appearance at the surface and may become more susceptible to stress and disease. Sharper blades will prevent a brown appearance and help to prevent further harm to the plant.

To have a Lush Lawn expert give you a free estimate on your lawn, just click here!

Happy Holidays from Lush Lawn!

To our customers, their families and everyone of our readers, we hope that your holidays are peaceful and joyful.

There are a lot of exciting new things that we are doing for the 2014 season.  While many of our competitors find time to rest in the winter, we at Lush Lawn believe in working hard year ’round. Lush Lawn has instituted special winter training programs for your lawn technicians so that they have the tools and abilities to better treat your lawn. Our office staff is busy fighting the snow on their way to work in order to make sure your accounts are setup right in the computer and we are ready to service you in the spring.

Lush Lawn will be adding lawn paint to our service line. During the drought season, late fall or for a special occasion we can paint your lawn the darkest green or make it stand out with fashionable blue or red. Who says you need a green lawn?

As always I love challenging the conventional wisdom of lawn care and next year Lush Lawn, thanks to you, is poised to become the number 3 lawn care company in the state of Michigan and the number one non-national lawn care company in the state.

Last year our company formed a group called the Tree Brotherhood. This group is comprised of our own certified arborist Travis Wagner and our tree technicians led by Erik Hutson. The Tree Brotherhood regularly meets and discusses improvements to our tree services. As a result Lush Lawn will be adding products to better take care of mites and the use of organic microbes that will stimulate tree root development and allow your trees to better absorb nutrients and fertilizers.

Lush Lawn is also committed to our local communities in southeast Michigan by supporting little league and travel league baseball programs from Troy to Grand Blanc. We also support Michigan Youth Leadership in Plymouth and are always welcome to customer’s suggestions on local charities and community activities. It is our goal to grow together with the communities that we service and make our homes a better place to live and enjoy the ‘Lush Lawn Experience’.

Our sincerest wishes of Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones,

Aaron, Alex, Athena & Sophia Samson 

Welcome to The Lush Lawn Blog!

We are excited to launch our brand new blog. We will be posting weekly articles on Lush Lawn’s passions: Lawn care, tree care, pest control, and of course, the beautiful state of Michigan.

We hope to see you here week after week and to read your comments and questions. This blog will be a collaboration work among our most knowledgeable lawn specialist at Lush Lawn because we want to make sure you receive the most accurate and relevant information. Feel free to suggest topics as well!

Best wishes!