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Soil Restoration Calculator

Have the results of your soil test ready. All you need to have tested is soil organic matter and texture to input into the soil restoration calculator. Use an accredited lab in your jurisdiction. Based on the texture of your soil, if organic matter levels are lower than would suggest proper functioning (i.e. reduced water and nutrient retention, biological activity, cycling and supply of nutrients, aeration. etc.), it may be recommended to amend your soil. Follow the input parameters below and use the help icons, Soil Glossary and Soil Restoration Protocols to aid you in assessing your soil.

Please Note: 

  • The amendment recommendation (volume of compost) that the calculator provides is most relevant for unmaintained plantings on previously degraded soils. These plantings typically do not receive follow-up irrigation or mulching and therefore soil conditions and species selections must be appropriate to support the successful establishment. If your trees will be irrigated and/or mulched, recommended compost volumes can be reduced. Please contact us if you would like further clarification.
  • It is critical that you understand compost quality parameters before preparing planting beds with large volumes of compost. Large volumes of compost can pose risks to tree planting projects if compost quality is not sufficient. We recommend the following basic requirements:
    • Mature compost (assessed based on respiration levels)
    • Moisture content between 40% - 50%
    • Organic matter content (based on Loss-on-Ignition test) should be a minimum of 30%
    • Carbon to Nitrogen ratio should be between 10:1 and 25:1
    • Soluble salts (of a saturated paste) should be less than 4 mS/cm

For more information on compost quality, refer to the following links:

Ontario Compost Quality Standards

Compost Quality Recommendations for Remediating Urban Soils (Heyman et al. 2019)

Interpreting Compost Analyses (Oregon State University Extension) 

The Process

Get started
Step 1
Get started
Collect soil samples
Step 2
Collect soil samples
Enter results
Step 3
Enter results
Tree recommendation
Step 4
Tree recommendation
Results and Sharing
Step 5
Results and Sharing

Step 1

Get started
  • Visit your site – identify any major urban features (i.e. power lines, proximity to roads, space existing for planted trees to grow outwards and upwards, etc.) and take note of vegetation and trees already present on or near the site. Also try to observe or test how quickly water tends to drain, sun exposure, salt spray or soil salt exposure and other environmental factors that can influence tree growth and survival.
  • Acquire locates for soil sampling
  • Although soil sampling is highly recommended, if you are not planning on sampling and would like tree species recommendations, skip directly to Step 4.

Step 2

Collect soil samples
  • You just need some simple tools and a sampling plan to get started! Click ‘Read More’ and ‘Watch Video’ for detailed instructions.
  • Although collecting and testing your soil adds an additional step, it represents an important process that can be used to assess your soil quality and health prior to planting. Soil quality is important to understand, as it will dictate the establishment and long-term success of your planting. Click 'Accredited Labs' below for Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs recommended laboratories to analyze your soil. 

Step 3

Enter results

Have the results of your soil test ready to input and click on ‘Go to Calculator’. If certain key indicators, such as low organic matter levels, are present in your soil, it may be recommended to remediate your soil. To understand our remediation process, click 'Watch Video' and 'Soil Remediation Protocols'. To understand why soil is important and the type of soil analysis that should be conducted, click 'Soil Glossary'. 

Step 4

Tree recommendation

Based on a range of site and tree species characteristics you can find out which trees are the best candidates for planting on your site. Click on 'Tree Glossary' for more information on the terms used in the Tree Species Selector.

Step 5

Results and Sharing

Share your soil restoration plan with your colleagues and friends! Also obtain a detailed print-out of your plan that you can take out into the field with you.