Choosing a Soil Amendment: Organic versus Inorganic

Two popular soil amendment choices are organic amendments and inorganic amendments. How do you choose which is right for you? Read on to find out.
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Caring for your garden can be an incredibly rewarding experience as you watch the fruits of your labor come to life. One important aspect of gardening is selecting a soil amendment that will nourish and bolster your vegetation and help it reach its full potential. Two popular soil amendment choices are organic amendments and inorganic amendments. How do you choose which is right for you? Read on to learn about their benefits and drawbacks so you can decide which is best for improving the health and success of your garden.

Considerations When Choosing a Soil Amendment

The most important factors when selecting your soil amendment include:

  • How long will the amendment last in the soil? Some people want the soil to improve quickly, and an amendment that decomposes rapidly is the right choice. Oppositely, those who want long-lasting improvement should choose an amendment that decomposes slowly
  • What is your soil texture? Identifying if you have sand, loam, or clay soil is essential for choosing your amendment. The type of soil you have impacts permeability and water retention, and your amendment can help improve conditions for growing.
  • What are the soil’s salinity and your plants’ sensitivity level to salts? Many composts made with manure, for example, are high in salts. Some plants are okay with high salinity levels, but others are salt sensitive.
  • What is the salt content and pH of the amendments? Some soil amendments are high in salt or have a high pH and should be mixed with low-salt soils. These high-salt and high-pH amendments include wood ash, Colorado mountain peat, manure, and biosolids.

As many of these questions aren’t easy to answer, you might need to send your soil to a lab to determine the salt content, pH level, and current organic content.

Organic Soil Amendments

Organic soil amendments come from something that was once alive. Organic amendments include wood chips, sphagnum peat, grass clippings, straw, compost, manure, biosolids, sawdust, and wood ash.


  • Increases aeration over time
  • Imrpoves water infiltration
  • Increases water- and nutrient-holding capacity
  • Energy source for earthworms


  • Benefits take time to see as the organic matter needs to break down
  • May not include essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium
  • Increased risk of bacteria, fungi, and disease
  • It can be challenging and time consuming to make your own organic amendment
  • Not all products are created equal and may produce different results
  • Presense of heavy metals
  • Can be hazardous to human health

Inorganic Soil Amendments

Inorganic soil amendments are man-made or mined. Common choices include perlite, vermiculite, diatomaceous earth, tire chunks, pea gravel, and sand.


  • Works quickly, often considered a “rescue treatment” to plants that are malnourish or dying
  • Nutrients are readily available to plants
  • Provides all the essential nutrients in the appropriate proportions
  • Many are low in cost
  • Faster to make at home than an organic amendment
  • Long shelf life


  • Can be easily washed away if plants are overwatered, called leeching
  • While some are inexpensive, some formulated options are costly
  • Many contain salts and other compounds that are not absorbed by the plants and are left behind in the soil, leading to buildup that may impact future crops if not neutralized
  • Because of the concentration of nutrients, too much may cause nutrient burn to the roots

Sow the Benefits of Inorganic Soil Amendments with Harvest Hero

Harvest Hero makes a variety of inorganic soil amendments to help gardeners grow further. Our flagship product is our Harvest Hero Enhanced Perlite Mix, a nutrient-rich inorganic amendment and growing medium that is a 3-in-1 blend comprised of perlite, diatomaceous earth, and essential nutrients. This patent-pending mix has been designed by Harvest Hero’s team of engineers and agronomists to improve soil structure for nutrition which promotes bigger plants and bigger yields. Harvest Hero Enhanced Perlite Mix will improve soil quality, provide plant nutrients, and amend soil properties to make it easier for the plant to absorb and translocate essential plant nutrients to the root system.

Consisting of domestically sourced perlite, diatomaceous earth, and essential nutrients, Harvest Hero’s 3-in-1 Enhanced Perlite Mix is unlike anything on the market. Try it today and see the difference a Hero makes in your home garden! For a limited time, get FREE SHIPPING. Use code: DEC22

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