University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Sustainable Landscaping: Healthy Environments

Laying the groundwork

by: Carl Salsedo, Ph.D.

Extension Educator, Horticulture

A healthy landscape environment begins with understanding the soil. Soil quality affects nearly everything that is a part of the landscape trees, flowers, shrubs and lawn areas. Good healthy soil is full of earthworms, microorganisms, bacteria and other forms of life. This life feeds on organic matter, which decomposes into humus, a rich dark material that holds both moisture and nutrients in the soil.

Soil fertility can be improved by incorporating organic matter such as grass clippings or leaves into the soil. Applications of compost, which includes all the organic nutrients to keep soil life healthy, also helps the plants thrive. As a natural fertilizer, compost has its own time-release feature. Nutrients are dispensed slowly, feeding the soil and plants gradually and preventing water pollution from nutrient runoff.