Would you like a lush lawn and a healthy garden? The key to either is nutrient-rich soil, and that’s where biochar comes in. This soil amendment also sequesters carbon dioxide, the prime mover of global warming. The more carbon stored in the soil, the less available in the atmosphere. Each of us can do our part in combatting climate change, and biochar aids that effort.
Biochar in the garden promotes fertility. Learn more below about the basics of biochar and how it can improve your lawn and garden.
What Is Biochar?
The use of biochar as a soil amendment dates back thousands of years. In the Amazon Basin, indigenous people used the slash-and-char activity to produce the rich, black, extremely fertile soil later known as terra preta. The remains of crops and plant materials were buried so that, rather than burn after being set on fire, they would smolder. The result transformed lower-quality soils into very productive ones.
Biochar consists of organic matter, or biomass, roasted at very high temperatures with little oxygen in a process called pyrolysis. Usually, the biomass contains wood and plant material. After pyrolysis, at the microscopic level, porous biochar fragments look like empty chambers. These chambers are the remnants of where the plant material, when living, delivered water and nutrients. Now, these spaces hold beneficial soil microbes and the water, proteins, oils, and other substances they produce. These microbes boost soil health.
The Use of Biochar for Lawns
If you spend a lot of time watering, fertilizing, and liming your lawn in an effort to keep it looking good, consider using biochar. You’ll spend less time and effort caring for your lawn after applying biochar and the effects are outstanding.
How should you use biochar on the lawn? With biochar, less is more. Wakefield recommends applying 1 cubic foot of biochar to every 700 square feet of lawn. You get no further benefit by applying more biochar than necessary. For improved results, aerate the lawn before the application of biochar. And, by mixing biochar with either compost or mulch you immediately improve the organic content impacting your lawn. For the first several days after application, add water to ensure biochar blends well into the soil.
For new seed, blend biochar into the soil at 5% of the soil volume down 2 inches. This is approximately 1 cubic foot of biochar for every 75 square feet of lawn.
While you can spread biochar into the soil at any time, it’s best to do so in early spring. The healthy microbes create a friendly environment for your grass.
Once applied, biochar lasts for decades, if not centuries. Your trees, shrubs, and landscaping will also benefit from biochar.
Gardening With Biochar
Biochar helps soil retain nutrients and water. As drought and water shortages continue affecting much of the country, using biochar on your lawn and garden is more important than ever. You should spend less time watering your garden after applying biochar.
No one likes the thought of heavy metals in their garden crops. The fact is that many gardens do contain heavy metals. If your home was once farmland, odds are it contains toxins from pesticides and fertilizers, including low levels of arsenic. Biochar reduces the bioavailability of toxins and heavy metals affecting plants.
Using biochar in your garden should increase your crop yield and give you stronger, healthier plants. Seeds germinate more readily.