Can't Grow Anything in Your Backyard? Tips on How to Identify Contaminated Soil and How to Remedy It

As a homeowner who likes gardening, it is always a source of pride to have a backyard where you can carry out your hobby or passion with convenience. However, after trying to grow flowers or vegetables unsuccessfully, your spirits may be dampened, and you might give up entirely on the idea of owning that flower garden you saw on Pinterest. This does not have to be the case, as chances are the soil in your backyard is contaminated and unsuitable for any sort of vegetative support. Below are a few tips on how to identify and deal with contaminated soil.

What is contaminated soil?

Soil contamination is the presence of chemicals and other alterations in the natural soil composition. It is usually caused by improper waste disposal, agro-chemicals and industrial components present in the soil. Some of the most common contaminants for urban dwellers are oil, pesticides, lead used in paint and underground pipes, cadmium from coal and waste, and arsenic in rare cases. If you reside near an industrial area, it is advisable to check for metals and poisons such as cyanide.

Contamination varies according to the history of the land, where factors such as intensity of chemical activity and utilities present determine the level of contamination. This can be determined by calling a land contamination expert who will carry out a soil test to establish the level of contamination.

How to do clean up contaminated soil?

One of the ways to clean up contaminated soil once it's identified is by excavation through digging it up. The soil is excavated using conventional construction equipment such as backhoe excavators. The equipment and method used varies according to factors such as depth of the contaminated soil and accessibility to the site due to presence of buildings and utilities present underground. Once excavated, it is taken to a landfill, while the excavated site is refilled with healthy soil, or the removed soil is stockpiled for treatment and then returned back to the site.

You can clean up the soil yourself if the degree of contamination is not very intense by adjusting the soil pH and attempting to bring it back to neutral, improving the quality using methods such as adding rich organic matter and dressing the soil with compost manure. This helps protect the plants from damage and eventually protects humans from the toxic impact of the contaminants. Growing plants in raised beds made of untreated wood and filled with healthy soil can enable you to still carry out your gardening with ease and with little risk.