Organic matter in the soil is highly beneficial for your plants. But where does organic matter come from? What does it do for your landscape?
Where does it come from?
Organic matter comes from anything that was once living. It could be from leaves and sticks, to bugs and insects, all the way to animals that have become deceased. The once living tissue will break down. Once it is has started to break down, it is called humus. It is partly recognizable, but it does not look like it once did. The breaking down process continues, and once it is no longer recognizable, it becomes peat. Peat is pure organic matter, and it is full of nutrients that are good for the plants. Ever hear of peat moss? It is just broken down organic matter.
What does it do?
Organic matter is fertilizer. That is the simple version. But organic matter also makes it so that nutrients that are already in the soil become more readily available for the plants. As your landscape or lawn ages, it is good to have new organic matter added because of the new food source. Wood chips/bark is an excellent way to add more to your landscape. The wood, once living, breaks down and becomes valuable organic matter.
Too much organic matter in the soil?
There can be a point where too much organic matter in the soil is not good. There is the potential for root rot or burn. Also, organic matter will change the pH of the soil. If the pH of the soil gets too far off, then there is a chance that the plant will not be able to tolerate the change. In any soil, you do want to make sure that there is some inorganic matter mixed in. Ideally it would be a sand and silt mixture with the organic matter.
Organic matter in the soil is very much so needed. Without it, our plants would struggle.