Earth Partnership for Schools

WOODLAND RESTORATION INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP > HOW TO RESTORE WOODLAND AT YOUR SCHOOL > STUDY THE SITE > SOIL COMPACTION

When soil is compacted, the spaces between the soil particles are squeezed shut, restricting root growth, air, and water exchange in the soil. If you have compacted soil, you will need to choose species that are able to tolerate these adverse conditions. In some cases, the soil will need to be modified before planting. The following set of questions will help you to determine if you have compacted soil:

  • How is the area used? Is there an existing unplanned path?
  • Are plants growing in the area?
  • If plants are growing in the area, are they healthy or weak?
  • Look for weed species, such as field bindweed, dandelion, plantains, or quackgrass. These plants may indicate a compacted soil. Are these plants in the area?
  • Dig into the soil with a shovel. Does the shovel easily slice through the soil, or is it difficult to dig?
  • When you remove the soil with a shovel, does it easily crumble and fall apart or form a hard clod?
  • Does the area puddle?
  • Based on your observations, is your soil compacted? Use observed facts to support your answer.

You can get a form with these questions below: