How to Use Biochar

Before You Start… How is your soil?

 

Does it need a little help or a LOT of help?

It is good to consider the reality of your ‘soil situation’. Is the area you want to plant severely depleted of organic matter? If your soil looks more like the surface of Mars than a rich, black earthy soil then you will want to make sure you have some kind of compost or mulch combined with the biochar.

Ideally, the biochar needs to be mixed with some kind of organic matter and water to allow it to set up a solid structure for all the micro-organisms in the soil to find a home. If your soil is seriously depleted of organic matter you should use biochar by either mixing with your own compost or worm castings. It is also important to try to add water each day for a few days to biochar that has just been mixed into your soil.

Protect Your Soil With Biochar

New plantings and prep for your garden soil

Apply to ~5%-10% of the soil with biochar. When you use biochar mix well with natural soil mixes or compost

  • A 1 cu/ft bag is appropriate for an 8’x4′ garden mixed into the top 4 inches.
  • A 1-gallon bag is appropriate for an area 4’x2′ mixed into the top 4 inches.

Existing lawns, shrubs, trees and gardens

You can use biochar over the ground and rake it in thoroughly. You can spread 1 cu/ft box of biochar over ~350 sq/ft of soil. This is a typical application for existing lawn care.

  • 1 cu/ft bag = ~375 sq/ft.
  • 1 gallon bag = ~55 sq/ft.
    *Reapplication of biochar each year is recommended for several years.

An alternative would be to apply a 50/50 mix of biochar and organic compost to the planting area. This new mix will work its way into the existing soil.

raised bed garden using bio-char

For The Backyard Vegetable Garden

Your soil is probably in decent condition but it needs a little push towards a healthier balance of carbon, nitrogen, micro-organisms and other supporting nutrients. You will find that 1 cubic foot of Biochar Soil Conditioner in an 8’x4′ bed mixed down to 4-6″ is going to make a big difference.

For Severely Depleted Soil

If your soil is severely depleted of organic matter we recommend making sure you add compost or mulch as a priority with biochar. You need the immediate support of some kind of organic material. Consider a 50/50 mix of biochar and compost and applying a 1/4 lb per square foot. You will see that is much less than 10% biochar but it is the correct ‘first step’ in reclaiming your land for planting.

Large Scale Turf Management

If you are in charge of managing a large area of turf and you need an organic turf product then consider one of the Wakefield Biochar Soil Mix products. We created two special mixes that combine the right organic material and organic fertilizer. They are specifically created to make your sports turf, city park, golf course look amazing! Make your soil strong and healthy with an immediate impact from OMRI certified compost, worm castings and the right balance of good bacteria and fungi. It works! And, you will love using it.

For information about bulk purchases of biochar and biochar mixes visit or our Shop Page.

A Few More Tips

Gardens and Flower Beds

It is recommended that the top 4″ of your raised bed garden uses the Wakefield Biochar with compost or other potting mixes. The remaining depth of your raised bed should continue with compost and topsoil amendments. Our 4″ minimum will make sure the seeds you plant will benefit as they sprout and their roots become established.

Lawns

The Biochar Soil Conditioner is not considered a topical treatment for lawns. You really need to get this stuff into the soil. Established lawns will need to be aerated and you will want to make sure you spread the mix thoroughly… might want to rake it in and then water generously.

Ideally, for new lawns, mix the Biochar Soil Conditioner into the top 4-6″ of soil. Water daily but do not plant the seeds yet. Let the biochar sit for about a week and then apply grass seed. Gently rake and turn the seed into the soil so that it is covered. Watering and additional coverage with straw are determined by the grass seed, the amount of rain you think you are going to get and the number of birds you think might eat up the seed before it sprouts. Follow your grass seed provider’s instructions for best results after you have planted.

Trees

Use the Biochar Soil Conditioner in the area around the tree’s root zone as best as possible. It is best to let the biochar mix with the soil for a week before planting the tree. For seedlings, you will want to consider the area the roots will grow into and for trees planted with the burlap bag and ball of roots make your hole considerably larger than the ball and fill with the mix.

For new tree planting apply 1lb of biochar to the soil directly around the roots.

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