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What are the differences and advantages or disadvantages of soil amendments? Specifically Perlite (expanded silicous rock), Vermiculite (expanded mica), Utelite (expanded shale).

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A

The best amendment for our soil is organic matter.  Well composted organic matter which you can do-it-yourself or for larger quantities you can go to the landfill who sells compost reasonably is the best overall amendment. There is the Salt Lake Valley landfill (click on http://www.slvlandfill.slco.org/html/compost.html).

What you have listed perlite, vermiculite and utelite are sometimes recommended for container gardening and potting soil but not for any large scale landscapes. The amount required of these mineral components in a landscape would make it too costly for a soil amendment and not perform nearly as well (improved draining) as adding organic matter.

Posted on 27 Mar 2009

Maggie Shao
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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