How Boy Scout Troop# 542 in Maple Glen, PA Helped Upper Dublin High School “Be Prepared” for Hurricane Isaias



Boy Scout founder and “Be Prepared” motto creator Robert Baden-Powell, when once asked “Prepared for what?” replied, “Why for any old thing”.  Thank goodness Eagles Scout Troop #542 practiced this motto and had the foresight to help Upper Dublin High School be prepared for the stormwater produced by Hurricane Isaias by designing, sourcing and installing a vegetated swale on their campus.

Over a year ago, UDHS rising Senior Griffin Johnson, while studying Environmental Science, conceptualized a vegetated swale project which merged his landscape and environmental interests with his need for an upcoming Eagle Scout project.  He proposed the project to his High School Principal, and luckily for Griffin, the school administrators were all on board and the project could move forward.

The vegetated swale provides UDHS with a tool to better manage stormwater runoff from the adjacent parking lot and roadway, in a more appealing way.  With advancements in landscape design and soil blends, stormwater management systems are both functional and beautiful.


The project began as they all should – by understanding the existing soil condition, and how it may need to be adapted to ensure a successful installation.

In this case, the soil just needed to be amended with compost to increase the organic matter content and provide a great balance of moisture holding capacity for dryer conditions while also creating a more porous soil structure to allow for drainage during heavy rain events.

The plants chosen for this project are native to this area, suitable for both wet and dry conditions, and are pollinator-friendly to help support the local ecosystem.  Over 1000 plants and shrubs were installed in the vegetated swale.

Boy Scouts, along with their friends and families, worked hard to complete this project.  In addition to providing the design and installation labor, Griffin was able to secure over $6000 of plants, materials, mulch and compost donated by garden centers and suppliers in the region.

As shown above, the project functioned as designed to trap stormwater in place and provide slow percolation into the soil.  Without a stormwater system, water will continue to run, eroding soil and carrying sediment and pollutants into fragile watersheds.

This project allows UDHS to be prepared for upcoming rain events, but there was something no one was prepared for, and that was the delays and precautions required due to the pandemic.  When the school shut down in March, no one was allowed on campus.  Before work could commence, a Covid Plan of safety guidelines mandated by the Boy Scout Counsel and Troop#542 had to be developed and enacted.

When asked for his key takeaways, Griffin is thankful for the opportunity to be part of this project.  He feels it has helped him become a better leader, enabled him to meet new people, and be able to leave a beneficial lasting mark on Upper Dublin High School.

Troop #542 would like to give a big shout out to the companies that donated time and materials for this project:

Allied Landscape Supply

Clearview Nursery

Coles Nurseries

Laurel Valley Soils

New Moon Nursery

North Creek Nurseries

Primex Garden Center

Think Green

Tuckahoe Nurseries

Friends With Benefits: Why Letting Your Flowers Cohabitate with Your Veggies is a Great Idea!

Typically, we plan our vegetable gardens around companion planting guides similar to the one below which shows which food crops cohabitate well with each other. 

For example, we know that tomatoes don’t play nice with cucumbers, but are bff’s with basil and spinach.

But did you know that tomatoes also love being grown with various flowers, including allium, marigolds, calendula, and nasturtiums?
Let’s take a look at all the ways nasturtiums help vegetables like tomatoes to grow big and healthy.

1. Flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects which help with vegetable production and controlling pests.
Pollinating insects like butterflies and bees are crucial for vegetable development. With squash, for instance, you can have lush vines and leaves topped off with stellar large flowers, but if those flowers aren’t pollinated, no squash will develop.
According to horticulturist Erica Shaffer, adding flowers and herbs to your garden repels some pests, too. “While I have yet to see a nose on any insect,” Shaffer said, “Mixing flowers and herbs up with vegetables confuses critters. Different smells camouflage each other and fewer pests are drawn to your garden.”

2.  Blooming plants are often used as a ground cover or space filler.  Nasturtiums are fast growing flowering plants can provide a “carpet” to shade soil and out-compete weeds.

3.  Flowers can act as a sacrificial “trap crop” to lure pests and make it easier to remove them. Nasturtiums attract butterflies and moths that attack cabbage family crops, distracting them from your more valuable vegetables.

4.  Flowering plants produce chemicals to repel insects from attacking a plant’s leaves, flowers, roots and fruit. Nasturtiums and some varieties of marigolds can be used to fumigate the soil as a natural deterrent to harmful root knot nematodes. Their strongly scented flowers and foliage can also help repel insects above the ground.

5.  Soil fertility can be improved by incorporating plants that can fix atmospheric nitrogen. Legume plants such as beans, peas and clover have root nodules that harbor Rhizobium bacteria that help to fix nitrogen through a symbiotic relationship with plants. The symbiont plants will have nitrogen for their own use and for the benefit of the neighboring non nitrogen-fixing plants.

If you have already planted your veggie garden, it’s not too late to add some flowers!  And don’t forget to show off your garden and use the #VforVictoryGardens hashtag!


Record numbers of families are going back to their roots by growing their own food.  The renewed interest in urban farming during the Covid-19 virus is likened to the victory gardens movement during food rationing in the 1940’s.  In addition to providing locally grown nutritious food, gardening provides a number of other benefits.  “When we interact with green, outdoor environments we tend to breathe more deeply and at a more regulated pace,” Monique Allen, author of Stop Landscaping, Start Lifescaping, tells us. Ultimately, this “oxygenates the blood and releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers.”

Whether you are a new gardener or an OG, we invite you to join the #VforVictoryGardens community of new generation victory gardeners.  We, along with our partners, The US Composting Council and Rodale Institute, have bushels of resources to help you create your best garden ever!

Show off your progress and connect with fellow gardeners by posting photos of you in your garden with the V for Victory sign to your social media accounts with the hashtag #VforVictoryGardens.

Rodale Institute will be selecting a random gardener who uses the hashtag and gifting them with a whole bunch of great items.  And of course, don’t forget that a great garden begins with healthy soil.  Make sure you amend your soil with compost or use a compost-rich Garden Soil when filling your raised beds.  You can find local suppliers which carry Laurel Valley Soils Premium Compost, Enriched Topsoil and Garden Soil here.

Here are some interesting and helpful gardening resources for you:

Serotonin From Soil? Yes Please!

Close your eyes for a moment.  Take a deep breath, and as you inhale, you smell the rich, earthy scent of soil in your garden.  When you exhale, you imagine kneeling down to the ground, grabbing a handful of soil, and feeling the warm sun on your face.

You’ve been here before, right?  This memory brings a smile to your face, because you can remember how happy being in your garden makes you feel.

Did you know that exposure to Mycobacterium vaccae, present in healthy soil, actually altered the brain chemistry of mice in the same way that anti-depressants do?  This friendly bacteria activates serotonin, releasing neutrons in the brain (otherwise known as the happiness hormone). Working in the garden, or even taking a walk in the woods can provide enough of a dose of Mycobacterium vaccae to uplift you.

The next time you feel anxious, a little digging or a walk down a nature path may help calm you down and improve your mood.  And remember, the healthier your soil is, the healthier your soil bacteria will be, because soil is a living system, just like our bodies.

Now is the perfect time to get digging and to prepare your gardens for the planting season.  And it is an even better time to take advantage of all that natural soil serotonin!





Gushing From Gutters Or Pouring from Pipes: Why Both Water Emergencies Should Worry You

If you arrived home to find a ruptured pipe which had gushed 1246 gallons of water on to your floor (enough to fill 31 bathtubs), you would certainly be alarmed about the damage it caused.

But what if that 1246 gallons of water gushed off the impervious surfaces on your property (the roof, driveway, patio, etc.) and into your landscape, your neighbor’s yard or out onto the street?  You may not worry about it if your neighborhood has not historically been at risk for flooding.

More often than not, however, we DO need to worry about it.  Below is a great illustration which shows where rain travels in a typical landscape.  Most stormwater that falls onto our properties is not typically absorbed where it falls.  In fact, the rushing water from many houses in the neighborhood will combine, creating an escalated risk of surface flash flooding. This problem often becomes magnified as the stormwater travels further down through the watershed, carrying all types of pollutants (fertilizer, motor oil, animal waste, etc.) onto our streets and into our sewers, creeks, rivers, bays and ultimately our oceans.

It is important for all of us, as professionals in the green industry and homeowners, to understand how we can help reduce runoff by slowing stormwater down and capturing it in place so it can soak in naturally where the soil can filter and clean the water.

Almost every day when we turn on the news, we are seeing firsthand how catastrophic flooding is destroying neighborhoods, farmland and industry in places that have never traditionally been at flood risk, right here in the USA!  Excessive rainfall is definitely alarming and is a new reality that needs to be accounted for. While climate change is a huge part of the problem, another contributing factor is the rapidly expanding amount of impervious surfaces spurred by economic growth.  These two things, when combined, create chaos.  While mitigating climate change will take time, there are easy and quickly implementable solutions we can do right now to counteract the displacement effects of impervious surfaces.

At Laurel Valley Soils we have traditionally considered our work to be strictly horticultural related, providing soils and compost for farms and landscapes.  Now however, we find ourselves on the front lines of stormwater management.   Many of our new products are designed to mitigate storm water runoff, such as our rain garden soil, Bio-retention soil and structural soils.

However, we cannot forget the benefits that our cornerstone product – compost – provides.  Did you know that for every 1% increase in organic matter, a cubic foot of soil holds an additional 1.5 quarts of water?

This new field of stormwater management really excites us, and we were thrilled to kick off 2020 by attending a landscaping/grounds maintenance conference which for the first time offered sessions focused on stormwater management techniques.

For homeowners and contractors who want to learn more, Penn State Extension has a wealth of information available to help you confidently offer products and services that improve stormwater management for your customers, employers, municipalities, or your own properties.

Below are links to a few short videos provided by Penn State Extension about what is stormwater and why we should care about it:

Want to see some great examples of beautiful and creative stormwater management projects?  Here you go!

Of course, you can always reach out to Jake with any questions!



Coverdale Farm Preserve – A Vision of Soil-Centric Agriculture

Michele Wales, Farm Manager of Coverdale Farm Preserve, wasn’t halfway through our office door when the words “regenerative agriculture” filled the air. This is when we instantly realized that Coverdale Farm Preserve was something special.  After all it’s not every day that a potential client starts excitedly talking about regenerating soil before we do!

As you look out across Coverdale’s 177 acres, nestled inside Delaware Nature Society’s Land Preserve, it’s not hard to see the imprint of Michele’s soil-centric vision manifested all around you.  Alongside the vegetable row crops, in-ground hoop houses and animal manure composting, school kids are getting dirty and bonding with the land while their parents pick up their weekly CSA shares.

The Coverdale Farm Regenerative Agriculture Program’s ambitious plan is to mimic natural processes that create healthy soil, animals and ecosystems that symbiotically support each other.

After a legacy of conventional farming, Michelle, with help from her team including Patrick Eggleston,  understood that part of their mission was to first heal the soil and bring it back into structural and biologic balance. To provide a jump start, Coverdale added 150 cubic yards of Laurel Valley Soils OMRI Listed Premium Compost to their soil. Although Coverdale is not currently growing certified organic crops, incorporating OMRI Listed Premium Compost not only allows them the option to do so going forward but is in line with their values.

The compost provides organic matter for rebuilding soil structure which helps reduce soil compaction and improves water holding capacity. It also provides slow release organic nutrients and a whole civilization of microbes to recolonize the soil with microscopic life. This biology acts as the digestive system of the soil much like the biology in our own stomachs which helps us to digest food, absorb nutrients and fight of potential diseases.

In addition to using compost to improve soil, Michele has incorporated leader-follower rotational grazing throughout their perennial pastures.  Rotational grazing is scientifically designed to contribute to the health of the soil and increase biodiversity simply by letting “animals act like animals” – eating pasture grasses and depositing manure. The animals pass through a pasture in succession – cows followed by sheep who are then followed by poultry – in a continual 40- to 60- day rotation, using the land more efficiently.  The poultry are housed in mobile poultry houses which are moved every other day to allow efficient grazing and manure deposits throughout the pastures.

Other novel practices include flame weeding of plant beds prior to planting, companion planting, utilizing solar panels for energy needs, and installing row and bed covers.

Want to see all this for yourself?  Coverdale Farms is open to the public on Wednesday 11am-6pm and Saturday 9am-2pm.  There are plenty of activities, including a 22-week CSA, farm tours, and seasonal events including hayrides.

Compost Fixed the Liberty Bell’s Cracked Soil!

Can you imagine what your 1/2 acre lawn would look like with 80,000 people per year walking through it or stopping to lay out a blanket for a picnic and some sun?  With that dense foot traffic, your soil would be compacted and cracked like the Liberty Bell!

This is what many popular public landscapes, such as the Independence National Historic Park (INHP) in Philadelphia, PA, endure every year. As you can imagine, it is a huge challenge to maintain healthy turf, as there is no down-time for rest and recovery to properly address the damage and stress created from the heavy use.  Most often maintenance treatments like weed killer, grass seed and fertilizer are applied in an ever losing battle to just keep turf alive.  We call this the “life support approach”, feeding the plant from the “top down” where one is just buying time until inevitably a major renovation is required. This is when Laurel Valley Soils gets the chance to address the landscape properly from the “bottom up” and fix the soil profile by amending it with compost.  Whereas healthy soil equals healthy turf, this approach is more like curing a disease vs just treating the symptoms.

Independence National Historic Park, located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia, is a 15.5 acre park which famously houses the Liberty Bell and attracts approximately 5 million visitors per year.  As the birthplace of our nation, it is imperative for the INHP grounds to be beautiful and welcoming to the people who travel there from all around the world.

Brightview, the largest landscape contractor in North America, has been providing the ongoing maintenance for INHP.  Last year, they reached out to the National Parks Service with a very bold proposal.  Knowing that the maintenance they were performing on a limited budget was not providing the results the landscape deserved, they proposed doing a full “bottom up” renovation and offered to provide this service pro-bono.

Of course the Parks Service said yes!  Brightview then approached their network of suppliers to join them in donating products and services for this project. When Laurel Valley Soils got the call from Brightview’s Scott Chambers, INHP Project Manager, to invite us to be part of such an important project, we were thrilled and happily donated several loads of compost.

Brightview got right to work removing the stressed turf and extra soil.  Then they brought in 100 yards of LVS Premium Compost and tilled that into the remaining onsite soil.  This both aerated the soil to relieve compaction and increased the organic matter content at the same time.  Then they installed a new irrigation system and laid sod after the final grading.

Healthy soils have a well-balanced structural matrix with organic matter providing the glue that creates good aggregation.  Well aggregated soils provide pore space for oxygen, biology and drainage.  Good aggregation also improves the ability to resist erosion and compaction, while increasing the ability to store water and nutrients and promote deep penetrating root growth.

Soil’s macro pores should have a ratio of 60% water and 40% oxygen.  We all know that plants need water to survive.  But just as importantly, oxygen is required for root systems and soil microbes to be able to breathe. The organic matter supplied from the compost helps aggregate the finest soil particles such as silt and clay into larger soil particles called “soil peds”.  These soil peds are what build a good structural matrix that provide pore space/aggregation.  A helpful visual is to think of a jar of marbles.  The marbles will have void spaces between them.  Even when pressure is applied on these marbles, the matrix resists compaction maintaining the voids. Poorly aggregated soils that lack pore space will see compaction quickly set in and the water to oxygen balance break down.  Dense compacted soils will quickly flip flop from being water logged to being dried out. Additional, equally important benefits provided by compost are slow release micro and macro nutrients that will continue to feed plants for years after only one application.  These nutrients are organic based and safe for our children, pets and environment.  And let’s not forget the biology which compost provides to the soil.  Think of healthy soil biology as a natural immune system for soil that helps it fight off turf and plant disease.

During the dedication ceremony and official reopening of Independence Hall National Historic Park, we asked Scott Chambers what his biggest challenge was with this project.  Without missing a beat, he exclaimed “Mowing it!  We’ve had to mow three times already this week!”  Now that’s a challenge we think anyone would be happy to accept!

Watch a video of the project below:

Let’s Celebrate Compost During ICAW 2019!

International Compost Awareness Week: a Perfect Time to Support Your Soil & PHS: City Harvest, too!

Compost provides soil with organic matter, nutrients and biology to grow healthy, nutritious food!  Have some fun while checking how much biology is present in your garden soil by “planting” a pair of 100% cotton undies.  Leave the waistband showing, and in 8 weeks try to pull them up out of your soil!  If you get just the waistband, you have lots of hungry, beneficial microbes!  More about #SoilYourUndies here….

International Compost Awareness Week is May 4-12, 2019  Once again, we will have our Premium Compost available at events all over the Delaware Valley to promote compost use, and will donate to PHS: City Harvest for every  purchase!

BYOB:  Bring Your Own Buckets or Bags and fill ’em up with compost for $5.

We will be at the Rittenhouse Flower Market, May 4 & 5 and

New Garden Growers Market, May 4 &11

Need more than a few buckets?  Visit a participating Garden Center who will donate $3 per yard of compost purchased, and Laurel Valley Soils will MATCH that for a total of $6 per yard donated to PHS: City Harvest!

Achin Back Garden Center, Pottstown PA
Behmerwald Nursery, Schwenksville PA
Copeland’s, Stanton, DE
Delaware Hardscape, Wilmington, DE
Haines Farm and Garden, Cinnaminson NJ
Primex Garden Center, Glenside PA
Pughtown Agway, Spring City, PA
West Chester Agway, West Chester PA  

Have questions?  Call us at 610-268-5555 or email


REGENERATE Your Soil! Because Sustainability is So Yesterday…

Wait—what?  We hear about sustainability every day.  What has changed?

Soil scientists predict that within the next 50 years, if soil is not protected and regenerated, it will be impossible to feed the population, keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, and halt the loss of biodiversity.  So just sustaining soil is no longer acceptable.

50 years is well within many of our lifetimes, and certainly our children’s and grandchildren’s lifetimes.  So how can we, as professionals and homeowners, make a difference?


We must make a conscious effort to build soils through sustainable landscaping and farming practices and compost is just the tool for the job!

We have all seen depleted soil. It is lighter in color, dry, and incapable of growing anything except for maybe the hardiest of weeds.  Depleted soil is caused by many factors, including:


Bare exposed soils are vulnerable to erosion from wind and water. As soil particles are removed, so is essential biology and nutrients required for plant growth including (N, P, K, Ca, S, Mg).

Loss of Organic Matter

Most soils are severely lacking adequate levels of organic matter. The US Composting Council, through their Strive for 5 campaign, recommends working towards achieving a soil organic matter (SOM) content of 5% to improve water holding capacity, soil structure, and most importantly, provide a habitat for microorganisms.  As SOM breaks down, it must be replaced either naturally or via amendments.  Soil cannot replace organic matter on its own.

Lack of Life

Soil biology decomposes organic matter, building soil structure and synthesizing otherwise soil-bound nutrients into plant-available nutrients. The image below is a great depiction of the relationship between soils rich in organics and biology which support healthier, more nutrient dense plants.  Humans, pets and livestock benefit greatly from these plants when consuming the vitamin, mineral and nutrient rich plant tissue. As an example, a tomato plant growing in soil rich in SOM, biology and nutrients will pass the micro and macro nutrients to its fruit, providing sustenance for the human consuming it.  Without biology’s help, the fruit will resemble a tomato in appearance only, and provide minimal nutrients and flavor.

One of the easiest and most environmentally friendly ways to regenerate soil is to amend with compost and compost-rich soil blends.  Laurel Valley’s locally produced Premium Compost provides organic matter, nutrients and indigenous biology.  Incorporating compost in your soil projects is a win for you and your clients by improving soil conditions today and for the future.

50 years will be here before we know it, and don’t we want to leave soil better than we inherited it?


The latest social challenge for millennial farmers and soil enthusiasts…

When was the last time you heard an adult say “I soiled my undies” and you couldn’t wait to see it?  Never?  Well we want to change that!

About a month ago, we decided to participate in the latest “millennial” challenge, and are grateful we didn’t have to dump buckets of ice water on our heads, or dance alongside our moving vehicle.  We just had to soil our undies!

Healthy soil contains a diverse community of microbiology.  In fact, one teaspoon of healthy soil contains over ONE BILLION microbes!  This biology contains a multitude of strains of beneficial bacteria and fungi that work together to provide a symbiotic relationship between soil and plants.  Plants secrete compounds that attract microbes, and in return, microbes eat organic matter and deliver nutrients to plants in a form in which plants are able to uptake them.

So here’s where the undies come into the picture…

Microbes aren’t picky when it comes to organic matter.  100% cotton underwear is just as appetizing to microbes as hay or leaves or banana peels.  For a fun, cheeky way to show the power of microbes,  Laurel Valley Soils has joined many farmers and fellow soil enthusiasts throughout the world in the #SoilYourUndies challenge.  We purchased some brand new Fruit of the Loom tighty whities to bury in our soil and compost to see for ourselves how quickly the microbes will decompose the cotton.  Based on the results from others who already completed the challenge, it was thought that to completely break down the underwear, it would take about 8 weeks.

We buried our undies in a fish tank filled with Laurel Valley Premium and Fresh Compost, in a raised vegetable garden filled with our Garden Soil, and in a windrow of Premium Compost.  Imagine our delight when after only 3 weeks, this is what we saw in the fish tank???  There were some HUNGRY microbes in there!

We will be displaying the results of our #SoilYourUndies challenge, along with lots of great information about making and using compost at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival on September 8 and 9, 2018.  Stop by our Booth# B57 where you can have the pleasure of meeting 1 billion of our finest microbes, and even take some home for your garden!  We hope to see you there!

Feed Your Soil & Feed Your Neighbors During Compost Awareness Week, May 5-13, 2018

Compost For Cupboards

May 5-13, 2018 is International Compost Awareness Week, and once again we are celebrating by supporting local food banks and food assistance programs. We hope you will join us!

Through our #CompostForCupboards program, Laurel Valley Soils has partnered with PHS City Harvest and Fulfill as the beneficiaries for this year’s #ICAW2018 campaign.

For more than a decade, Laurel Valley Soils has teamed up with PHS to provide Premium Compost, Garden Soil and Enriched Topsoil for their LandCare Program and Urban Farms, such as Bartram’s Garden and Mill Creek Farm.

Here are several ways we can all help to feed our soil and feed our neighbors during ICAW:

  1.  Visit the New Garden Growers Market on May 5 and 12, 2018, purchase Laurel Valley Soils Premium Compost and 100% of the $ of your purchase will be donated to PHS City Harvest!  BYOB  (Bring Your Own Bag or Bucket) or BYOT  (Bring Your Own Truck) for larger quantities of compost.
  2.  Visit Bartram’s Garden on May 5, 2018 from 12pm-2pm and BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag or Bucket) to pick up some Laurel Valley Soils Premium Compost for all your spring gardening needs.  100% of of your $ donation will go to PHS City Harvest!
  3.  Visit a participating Garden Center, (Molzon Landscape NurseryAchin Back Garden Center, Primex Garden Center, Delaware Hardscape, Behmerwald Nursery, Pughtown AgwayHaines Farm and Garden, West Chester Agway, Feeney’s, County Line Nursery) and purchase Laurel Valley Soils Premium Compost for your spring gardening needs, and $6 per yard of compost purchased will be donated to PHS City Harvest (or Fulfill when Premium Compost is purchased at Molzon’s).
  4.  Join Laurel Valley Soil’s  Joe DiNorscia at Primex Garden Center, where he will share his knowledge of all things compost at 11:30 am on Saturday, May 5! Check out a demo of live mushrooms growing in compost, and then learn how that same compost helps you grow robust gardens and landscapes! Joe will be will be available after the workshop from 12:00pm – 2:00pm to answer all your compost questions.
  5. Donate!  Thank you to Surburban Contractors Association for their donation!

Have questions?  Call us!  610-268-5555 or email Suzanne.


How Black Gold Helped Mercedes Benz Stadium Achieve Platinum


Scott Jenkins is the General Manager of the newly-designed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Falcons.  Scott had a vision to be #1, and was determined to make that happen when the facility opened in August of 2017.  And Scott got his wish, although maybe not in the way you might expect, as the Falcons fell to the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC Division win that year.

But in the green building world, the Falcons’ home field is on the record books.  Mercedes Benz Stadium is the 1st professional sports stadium to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, which is a Super Bowl-esque sized win for Jenkins and his team of architects, planners, builders and installers.

One of the reasons MB Stadium was able to achieve this prestigious status was its incorporation of compost as part of its landscape and stormwater design plans.  150 tractor trailer loads of compost-enriched engineered soil was amended into native soil on site and  installed in bioswales and other water retention areas to capture, retain and manage high volumes of water runoff from large areas of impervious surfaces.

Many municipal ordinances and best practices require the addition of organic matter to existing soil whenever installation of plant material takes place.  A target of 5% organic matter in soil provides increases in the following:

  • Water retention
  • Nutrient retention
  • Microbial activity
  • Sustainability
  • Physical, chemical and biological properties

In addition, project material costs can be reduced by up to 2/3 when 2″ of compost is applied vs bringing in 6″ of topsoil, while also lowering the project’s carbon footprint.

Want to learn more?  Check out the video below for more information:



Dedication: It’s What Gets Us All Paid!

We know how time sensitive stabilization can be when approaching the end of a project.  It is critically important to get your seed down and achieve germination before the November cut off.  Once a site is stabilized, converting the silt catch basins into functioning bioretention basins is the last key deliverable for dedication.


Having an experienced soil partner that understands the needs of your project is the key to achieving fast and successful slope stabilization and basin conversions.  Laurel Valley is a unique soil producer, as not only do we have a state of the art manufacturing facility, we have an experienced team who understands the chemistry and science of soils so we can make the quality compost and engineered soils that your projects require.

We have been in business since long before “bioretention Soil” was even a product; making compost for more than forty years and blending soil products for nearly twenty.  Specializing in PennDOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Philadelphia Water Department specifications is just some of what we do.


We take the science of soil seriously and we work closely with landscape architects, soil engineers, universities and soil testing laboratories.  Soil specifications and the soil submittal process have become very complicated.  Our in-depth understanding of soil blending and soil specifications allow us to provide accurate and competitive pricing up front.  Don’t allow yourself to get to the end of the project only to find out that you have budgeted for the wrong soil blend or have your soil submittal rejected.

You can have confidence in knowing that we provide the whole package from inventorying the highest quality ingredients with large volume production capacity to providing guidance through the bid process and delivering testing and submittals.  Consider Laurel Valley not only your go to manufacture but your trusted advisor.  Your success is our success.

Laurel Valley Soils Dirt Shed

Project Location:  Christiana Fashion Center, Christiana, DE

Bioretention Basin:  3225 cu yds DENREC B-14 Bio-Soil:  60% Sand, 10% STA Compost, 30% Mulch

Christiana Fashion Center

As part of a new outdoor retail shopping center, a stormwater management plan adhering to local BMP’s was developed.  Several bioretention basins were strategically placed throughout the property to capture stormwater runoff from the buildings and paved areas.

Christiana Fashion Center After

Project:  Aerzen USA, LEED-Certified Facility, Coatesville, PA

Rain Gardens:  200 cu yds of Rain Garden Soil:  50% sand, 25% compost, 25% native soil


Aerzen USA’s recent headquarters expansion was designed with environmental responsibility in mind.  The goal of this project was to double the office space, and add 30% more manufacturing area while including as many green building practices as possible.  In addition to the rain gardens, Aerzen incorporated solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and a garden which produces 250 lbs of vegetables per year that are donated to local food banks.


Project Location:  Applecross, Downingtown, PA

Bioretention Basin:  800 cu yds of Bioretention Soil:  40% sand, 30% compost, 30% native soil

A Bioretention Basin was installed to manage stormwater runoff within this golf course and housing community.


Project Location:  Wegman’s, Glen Mills, PA

Bioretention Basin:  1518 cu yds Bioretention Soil:  35% STA compost, 20% sand, 45% native soil


Project Location:  Pennsylvania Turnpike, Northbound Shoulder, South of Exit 105

Shoulder Stabilization:  Enriched Topsoil

Bear Creek-1

Laurel Valley Soils Enriched Topsoil was installed for road shoulder stabilization as part of a new interchange project on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Bear Creek-4

Have questions?  Want to see how we can help YOU?  Contact us!  610-268-5555.

Marketing Topdressing is E-Z with our Topdressing Tool Kit!

Want to Start Offering Topdressing?

Already Offer Topdressing, but Want to Increase Sales?  

Check out our Topdressing Marketing Tool Kit!

Laurel Valley Soils Topdressing Marketing Kit

Topdressing Flyer

Here is a flyer you can send to your customers via EDDM, add to a Val-Pak campaign, or slip into your door hangers after other services.  We will add your company info (for FREE!) and send the file to your printer.  Here is a sample:

Happy family with children near new house. Construction and real estate concept.

Flyer Front

Flyer Back

Flyer Back 

Eblast Template

Want to send an email to all your customers to promote Topdressing, but don’t have the time to design something catchy?  Well, look no further!  You can download this template, or call us to have it tweaked for you, and voila!  Instant Eblast!

Topdressing Eblast Template

Download Topdressing Eblast Template

 Have questions? Need help?  Call Suzanne at 610-268-5555 or email:

What Business-Boosting Super Power Would You Choose?

Compost man

Would you wish for improved moisture holding capacity in your soil, so your plants would have increased drought tolerance and stay vibrant all summer?  Would you want to lighten up your heavy clay soils, improving percolation and reducing compaction, or would you want organic slow release nutrients that can steadily feed your plants all season long?

It would be hard to choose, right?  Because each of your projects may have different requirements and specifications, how would you ever be able to pick just one super power?

The good news is that you don’t have to pick just one!  You can actually get all these powers and more by simply incorporating Laurel Valley Soils OMRI Listed Premium COMPOST into your landscapes!

Organic matter has been Mother Nature’s go-to Super Power since 2320 BC.  We challenge you to think about how compost can super-charge not only your customers’ landscape installations, but your business!  Check out the infographic below to see how incorporating compost into your projects can get RESULTS, and elevate YOUR Company above the rest!


Call us today!   We have your OMRI Listed, STA Certified, Super-Powered Premium Compost that is screened, dry, and ready for action!  610-268-5555.

Compost for Cupboards Benefits PHS City Harvest During International Compost Awareness Week

International Compost Awareness Week, May 7-14, 2017, is a time to celebrate the many benefits of compost, as well as those who use it to benefit others.  This year, Laurel Valley Soils has chosen The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest Program as their Compost for Cupboards beneficiary.

Compost for Cupboards
Laurel Valley Soils has partnered with our local Garden Centers and the New Garden Growers Market to promote the use of our OMRI Listed Premium Compost.  During the opening two weekends of the Growers Market, which coincides with ICAW, Laurel Valley Soils will have a booth staffed for answering questions and selling Premium Compost where 100% of sales will be donated to PHS City Harvest.  Simultaneously, participating Garden Centers will donate a portion of their Premium Compost Sales and Laurel Valley Soils will match their contribution, all under the Compost for Cupboards campaign.

Compost for Cupboards was created to help organizations that grow fresh produce to serve food insecure residents of the Delaware Valley.  PHS City Harvest program includes 140 urban gardens and farms which distribute their harvests through food cupboards and farmers markets.  For those living in food deserts, City Harvest may be their only access to fresh food.

Here’s how you can participate!

Visit the New Garden Growers Market Saturday, May 6 & 13, 2017, 9 am – 1pm at 8943 Newport Gap Pike (Route 41), Avondale, PA  19311

Visit a participating Garden Center May 7-14, 2017:

Achin Back:  10 Penn Rd., Pottstown, PA  19464

Alexander’s Lawn & Garden:  800 Ogletown Rd, Newark, DE  19711

Delaware Hardscape:  401 B & O Lane, Wilmington, DE  19804

Feeney’s Garden Center:  1134 Bustleton Pike, Feasterville-Trevose, PA  19053

Haines Gifts & Gardens:  196 Route 130, Cinnaminson, NJ  08077

Pughtown Agway:  819 Pughtown Rd., Sprig City, PA  19475

West Chester AGWAY:  956 S Matlack St., West Chester, PA  19382

Want more information?  Contact Suzanne Longacre:;  610-268-5555

The 12 Days of Compost

ICYMI, Here is An Encore Presentation of Your Favorite Laurel Valley Soils Team Members Presenting The 12 Days of Compost!


And no video is complete without its Bloopers!  Check out The 12 Days of Bloopers here!

Stormwater Soils: Which Mix is Right for Your Project?

Stormwater management BMP’s (Best Management Practices) are part of every new construction project. Installation of Bio-retention basins and rain gardens is a common method used for capturing storm water.

The general design of a basin or rain garden can vary.  Some basins incorporate stone drainage layers and filter fabric below the engineered soil filter layer (Bio-retention soil) and some do not.  The Bio-retention soil can also vary quite a lot in the design composition of the component mixture.


Below are examples of projects we worked on this past year in which every basin utilized a different type of Bio-retention soil, however the end goal was always the same: to capture the water before it can leave a site, filter out contaminants and then infiltrate the water deep into the ground.  The reasons why there are so many different types of Bio-retention soils being utilized today include:

  1. Bio-retention soils are a new technology and the designs are still evolving.
  2. Different site and soil conditions often require different approaches.
  3. Municipalities and managing agencies often have different specifications.

Sound complicated?  Not to worry!  Engineered soils is what we do.  We are the experts, and are here to help you navigate this rapidly evolving world of storm water management.  Call us at 610-268-5555 or email Jake Chalfin, Sales Manager, at
naval-base-post gap-by-pass-post





Stormwater – From Waste to Resource

Historically land development projects were designed with the objective of maximizing the built space within both the building footprint and the parking area, with little consideration given to much else. As the built environment has grown over the history of our country we have seen urban flooding events grow in both regularity and destructiveness.


Now that land planners, engineers and architects have learned the negative repercussions of what too much impervious surface can do during a storm event, much care is being taken to ensure proper ecological storm water management tools are implemented in most new building projects.

Passive storm water capture systems like rain gardens, bio-retention basins, bio-swails and tree pits are all tools that prevent surface run off from leaving a site.  At the same time these features filter and clean the water and infiltrate it back into the natural ground water system.

These biological storm water capturing tools can actually enhance the aesthetics of the landscapes for the buildings and even qualify the builder for LEED Certification Credits.

Stormwater Basin containing custom designed Laurel Valley Soils at Philly’s Central Green at the Navy Yard

Central Green at the Philadelphia Navy Yard

The steady and methodical reinvention and redevelopment of the Philadelphia Naval Yard is at the center of Philadelphia’s burgeoning tech economy.  While the beautiful turn of the century campus provided a great canvas for new buildings and landscapes it also proved to have a host of challenges.

First, the entire landmass is man-made, built from river dredge and mainland soil spoils.   Mix in concern over soil contamination from the years the naval base was in full wartime operations, and the fact that below this less than desirable ground is a high water table containing brackish water, and the challenges of this site would have made many developers take a pass on the project.  But not Liberty Property Trust!  They saw the vision of this site, knew the potential and acted boldly.

In order to ensure a successful and functional landscape for the Central Green public landscape project, Soil Scientist Tim Craul was brought in.  He determined that higher quality functional soils were needed and would have to be imported to the site.  He specified a two-layer soil system containing a course drainage layer located below a finer, slightly more organic surface/planting layer. Together the soil layers work to support plant life, while also maintaining optimum soil moisture and filtering and infiltrating storm water.   Working closely with Tim Craul through a rigorous testing process, we were able to create and manufacture soils that met these criteria.


Before and After by C. Caramanico and Son at Central Green at the Navy Yard

Our longtime client C. Caramanico and Sons performed the installation.  Over 3,000 yards of Laurel Valley custom soil was spread to create a six acre park-like setting integrated with a state of the art storm water management system.  This area, referred to as a “social space” is used daily by employees of the various Naval Yard businesses.  The landscape is a beautiful sanctuary for people to enjoy, play in, and unwind amongst aesthetically pleasing yet functional bio-swales and rain gardens seemingly hidden right before your eyes. The award winning landscape was designed by James Corner Field Operations, most recognized as being the Project Lead on NYC’s famous High Line, and is a wonderful example of what the future of urban storm water management is all about.

I Won’t Forget To Plant Flowers on Your Grave

Gravener:  n.  A Grave Gardener


The award for the most unusually cool application using our Enriched Topsoil goes to The Woodlands for their Grave Gardeners Program.  Yup—I said it—Grave Gardeners!

Grave Gardeners logo

Jessica Baumert is the Executive Director of the Woodlands, and the brainchild of this unique program.  The Woodlands, a National Historic Landmark District, is a 54 acre property containing an 18th century garden, 19th century rural cemetery, a mansion, community garden, and acres of open space that backs up to West Philadelphia’s University City.

With the mansion already targeted for restoration fundraising, Baumert wanted the many “cradle graves” that line the Woodlands Cemetery to also feel the love by being restored to their original botanical beauty.  So with excitement and apprehension, Jessica put her dream out there—with an open call for “Grave Gardeners”, and hoping there may be 20 people willing to join her to get this project going.

Imagine her surprise when 80 people, many of whom are city residents with no land of their own available for gardening, applied!  Blogger Modern Day Dirae, who, like many of her fellow “Graveners” have become mildly obsessed with their grave’s resident, posted this on her blog:

It is with great pleasure that I would like to introduce you to Mary Siffert Ruehmann.


Mary Siffert Ruehmann’s Cradle Grave

A resident of the 29th Ward here in Philadelphia, Mary was born to Frederick Ruehmann and Caroline Ludy on January 27th, 1846 and died on the 12th of May, 1909 at the age of 63. At this point, I do not know if she had any children. It does not seem likely since she died with her father’s name, but I am going to try to do some more research and see what I come up with.  I have not fully decided what I would like to do to pay tribute to Mary. I am going to visit her over the weekend and see what her grave calls for. Since it doesn’t look like there is any writing visible on the headstone part of her cradle grave, I will likely put roses or some sort of vine up there as a large backdrop to what I will do inside the cradle.”

Mary Siffert Ruehmann’s Cradle Grave after planting

To prepare, the Graveners attended 3 seminars covering topics such as the overall cemetery beautification movement in Phila., Victorian plants and their use in cemetery gardening back in the day, and how to prepare garden beds for planting.

The Woodlands, through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, used over 100 cubic yards of Laurel Valley Soils Compost-Enriched Topsoil to fill the cradle graves and ready them for planting. LVS Enriched Topsoil contains Compost, which increases soil’s organic matter to:

  • Help hold water, requiring less irrigation
  • Improve soil structure, allowing air, water and nutrients to move freely
  • Provide macro and micro nutrients to plants
  • Supply beneficial microorganisms

The Woodlands Cradle Grave with Laurel Valley Soil and plantings

The Woodlands is one of the hundreds of betterment projects that we have done in conjunction with PHS.  Stay tuned as we chronicle more of them here in our blog!

In the meantime, want to learn more about The Woodlands Grave Gardening Program?

Check out the video below to see the beautification process in progress:

And follow the Woodlands on Facebook here:

Sports Turf: It’s All About Recovery

Whether you are a Golf Superintendent, Sports Field Manager, or Homeowner with a passion for a beautiful lawn, topdressing with Laurel Valley Soils STA-Certified Premium Compost may well be the solution to getting the turf you dream of.

Cool season grasses, which are typically grown from Delaware northward, benefit tremendously from a dose of compost every fall or spring, often in combination with aerating.  Adding organic matter-rich compost provides a myriad of benefits, as shown in the video below.


Have questions?  Call us!  866-LVSoils

DRY Laurel Valley Soils and Compost: Like It Never Even Rained!

May 2016 Was the 10th Rainiest May Since 1900.

But it didn’t stop our customers, because no matter how WET it was yesterday, we will deliver DRY topsoil and compost today!

Laurel Valley Soils 15,000 Cu Yd covered Dirt Shed

Laurel Valley Soils Enriched Topsoil is ALWAYS dry!

With 15,000 cu yd of covered topsoil storage and 30,000 sq ft of production capacity for blending custom engineered soils used for bioretention basins, rain gardens, green roofs and general stormwater management, we definitely have you covered!!!  As soon as you are able to get back out on the job site, we have dry soil and compost ready and waiting to be delivered to your location.  No more dealing with wet product, or delaying work while waiting for it to dry out.

production shed

Our Enriched Topsoil contains our nutrient-rich Premium Compost, which provides the following benefits:

  • Improves soil structure
  • Adds organic nutrients
  • Stabilizes pH
  • Improves disease resistance
  • Supplies beneficial microorganisms, bacteria and fungi
  • Increases soil’s cation exchange capacity, helping the plant to absorb more nutrients from the soil

Want to learn more about ways customers have used Laurel Valley Soils?  Check out our blog post  “Jake and Suzanne Go Site Seeing in Philly



Cool Facts for National Learn About Composting Day!


friendship, summer vacation, freedom, happiness and people concept - group of happy female friends dancing and jumping on beach

So to help you celebrate, and to provide great Memorial Day Party Conversation Topics, Here are 5 Awesome “CLICKS ABOUT COMPOST”!

  1. How does COMPOST help SOIL?
  2. How does COMPOST give your neighbors LAWN ENVY???
  3. Composting 101—a Five Minute Overview
  4. Healthier Plants, Less Watering, Less Disease??? Tell Me More!!!
  5. I want some compost! Where can I get it???

And we wish you a very happy and safe Memorial Day, too!

Just think–with all your party scraps, it may be the perfect time to start your compost pile!

Jake and Suzanne Go “Site” Seeing in Philly!

“Site” Seeing is not a typo!  Jake and I were attending an event hosted by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council in Philly, and decided to make a day out of it by visiting Laurel Valley Soils “sites” throughout the city!

Compost Cam Suz


Our morning meeting wrapped up with a tour of Central Green, the 5 acre park located in the middle of Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.   This oasis contains lifestyle amenities for the 10,000+ person local work force and includes a fitness station, amphitheater, a hammock grove, bocce courts, ping-pong tables, a huge communal table, and a bioretention basin for stormwater management.  As you can see in the photo below, this is not your Daddy’s bio basin!  We are extremely proud to have provided the soil to help create this masterpiece of function and beauty!

Central Green Bio Basin

After the Central Green festivities were done, Jake and I headed out, with compost cam and gps at the ready, to check out our dirt piles all around the city!

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has hundreds of PHS Vacant Land Site projects, and the photos below showcase five of them, after they have been cleared of debris and received our soil delivery.


Below is a great photo, as it shows the various stages of Vacant Land Site completion.  In the background, you can see where the debris has been cleared, and a pile of soil that has just been delivered. Then you see a lot where the soil has been spread, and in the foreground is a fenced space that was completed in past seasons.


Next was Rodin Square, where Laurel Valley Soils custom blended the soil for rooflite, and the mix is being used for tree planting on a roof garden, around a to-be-installed pool!  Soil must be blown up to the roof site, as shown in the photo below.

Rodin combined

Our final stop was at the Pennovations site, where Laurel Valley Soils are being used for several bioretention basins as well as for planting trees.


Want us to grab the compost cam and visit YOUR installation?  Call us!

Until our next site seeing trip…..


Want LAWN ENVY??? Apply STA-Certified Compost!!

Do you know how the best looking lawns in the neighborhood get that way?

According to Joe Lamp’l, host of Growing a Greener World, it always begins with a generous topdressing of STA Certified Compost!  It’s the most readily available, economical, and stabilized form of organic matter on the market today.

Joe Lamp’l discusses how to topdress your lawn with compost in the video here:



Why Choose Laurel Valley Compost?

Like Top Chefs, We Know That Quality Ingredients, Blended Perfectly,


Portrait of a female chef preparing a dish carefully

Compost can be derived from many different types of materials, including yard trimmings, food scraps, leaves, manure, and post-harvest mushroom compost.  In the previous two blogs, we discussed why you should use compost, and why you should use STA Certified Compost.  Here, we are going to explain the benefits of using post-harvest mushroom compost from Laurel Valley Soils.

Many types of compost are made using whatever unused products are available at that time, sort of like when your Mom would make soup from all the leftovers at Thanksgiving.  Creating Laurel Valley Soils Compost is more like baking your Great Grandmother’s famous, award-winning upside-down carrot, macadamia and bourbon cake.  It requires using only the finest ingredients and carefully following the recipe, as there are high expectations on the line!

Because our compost is initially created to grow fresh mushrooms, we follow a strict formula containing only the highest quality, purchased and inspected ingredients including hay, straw, recycled horse bedding, cocoa shells, poultry litter, corn cobs, and gypsum.  After the crop of mushrooms is complete, we take back the post-harvest mushroom compost, let it compost down some more, and then upcycle it as premium compost or repurpose it to create enriched topsoil.

So why should YOU specifically select Laurel Valley Compost? What separates LVS from the crowd?

  • STA Certified: which means it meets the quality and consistency requirements of the US Composting Council
  • PA Certified Organic
  • Stored indoors.
  • Screened and Dry
  • Consistent recipe = consistent reliable performance
  • DNREC and PennDOT Approved
  • Punctual delivery for wholesale clients
  • Widely distributed through garden centers for homeowners

At Laurel Valley Soils, we specialize in providing the exact product you need, including creating custom engineered soil blends.  Whether you are looking for straight compost, compost-enriched topsoil, or blends for bio-retention basins, rain gardens or any other need, we have the skill, expertise and experience to meet all your project requirements.

STA Certified Compost–The Cream of the Crop!

Certifications Image

Good Housekeeping, Energy Star, United Laboratories, USDA Organic.  These icons invoke a comfort level; a feeling of trust, safety and quality endowed on the products that carry these coveted seals of approval.

For compost, the United States Composting Council is the governing body which sets the standards for this product.  Like the certifications listed above, the Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) assures you that the compost products you are purchasing meet all the quality requirements set forth by the USCC by independently testing products on a regularly scheduled basis.

So how does the STA Program work?

  • STA Certified compost products are tested on a regular schedule, which assures the production of consistently high quality products.
  • Test results are completed independently by appointed accredited laboratories, and available upon request from, the US Composting Council and the manufacturer, for your peace of mind knowing exactly what you are buying.
  • STA products meet or exceed all related product quality and testing requirements prescribed by state and/or federal regulations, assuring you purchase a safe, eco-friendly product.

Because compost can be created from many different types of feedstocks, and with some manufacturers the components can vary dramatically from one batch to another, it is important to purchase compost that has been STA Certified.  You want to make sure that your soil receives a safe, healthy and nutritional amendment.

Here is where you can purchase STA Certified compost at an Eastern PA/NJ/DE metro region garden center near you, or ask your lawn care provider to apply Laurel Valley Soils Compost and Compost-Enriched Topsoil.  If you are a business interested in purchasing our products wholesale, please contact us at 866-LV-SOILS.


The Secret Behind Pinterest-Worthy Gardens

Smiling blond woman in the vegetable garden.

Think Gardens Like This Only Exist on Pinterest???

Not So! The simple, not so secret, secret ingredient behind robust gardens is COMPOST!

And don’t worry—if you don’t make your own compost, you can buy Premium STA Certified Compost at your local Garden Center.

Adding compost to soil provides the following benefits:

  • Increases the organic matter content of your soil
  • Improves soil structure allowing for both better percolation and moisture retention.
  • Adds organic nutrients
  • Stabilizes pH
  • Improves disease resistance
  • Supplies beneficial microorganisms, bacteria and fungi
  • Increases soil’s cation exchange capacity, helping the plant to absorb more nutrients from the soil

As a reminder to apply compost to improve the health of soil and the plants it grows, The US Composting Council has developed the “Strive for 5” Campaign.

Logo_StriveColor_HiRez-no background


Most native soils contain between 1-3% organic matter, which is too low to grow!

Increasing SOM (Soil Organic Matter) to 5% or higher provides the benefits outlined above, and creates the ideal conditions to grow beautiful and healthy lawns, turf, flowers and vegetables.  And to top it off—applying just 2” of compost in lieu of the traditional 6” of topsoil can reduce project material cost by up to 2/3!  Now you know why it is referred to as “Black Gold”.

To celebrate the beginning of International Compost Awareness Week, (ICAW), here is a cool video featuring Joe Lamp’l, host of Growing a Greener World, discussing the benefits of using compost in your yard.

Need Help?  Have questions?  Have photos of you compost projects?  Contact Us!

We’re Taking Compost to New Heights–95 ft Above Chestnut Street!


Cira Green, Philadelphia’s first elevated public park and first blue-green roof, is a 1.25 acre park located on top of Cira Centre South in University City, which sits ninety-five feet above street level!  The oasis was built on a parking garage roof which overlooks Center City, University City and the Schuylkill River, and is an integral element in developing the Schuylkill River Greenway. The roof is both “blue” and “green,” with the blue roof  located under the paved walking areas to provide storm water management by capturing rain water which is then directed to irrigate the planted “green roof” areas.

Laurel Valley Soils was founded in 1979 by a handful of the nation’s leading mushroom growers who had the foresight before “sustainability” was a hot keyword to realize the opportunities available for upcycling their abundant, high organic matter, post-harvest mushroom compost. “Mushroom farmers from around the world visit our 120 acre facility located in the Mushroom Capital of the World to learn how to emulate our state-of-the-art practices.  We feel great pride to be leaders not only in mushroom compost production but environmental stewardship” notes our own Joseph DiNorscia, Manager of Laurel Valley Soils.

450 cubic yards of our “black gold” was blended into the growing media provided by rooflite® and used for Cira Green’s various green roofs as well as lawn areas and planters containing trees and perennials.


When selecting a location to kick off the nationally-focused 2016 International Compost Awareness Week being held May 1-7, 2016 and features the theme: Compost – The Soil and Water Connection,  the “blue” & “green” Cira Centre South was the perfect choice.  Events, including tours and education highlighting the benefits of incorporating compost into the engineered soils required for green roof projects are scheduled nationwide throughout the week.

DiNorscia, in conjunction with The US Composting Council (USCC), The Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF), The Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and other notable industry leaders are kicking off the celebration on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 1:30pm at Cira Green with a summary of how this project was constructed and the role of compost in its success.

As a visitor to Cira Green, it’s hard to imagine that this complete aerial ecosystem is man-made and was previously a parking garage roof.  But one thing is for sure – with the warm weather upon us, it is proving to be a popular and dynamic green space in the city for all to enjoy!

Want to attend the ICAW Kickoff Event at Cira Green on Tuesday, May 3, 2016?  Contact me!  We would love to see you there!

Suzanne Longacre




At the Radnor Hunt Races, We’re Focusing On What You Can’t See!

So here we are—publishing our FIRST BLOG!  I am Suzanne Longacre, Marketing Champion for Laurel Valley Soils. I am extremely lucky to be able to utilize my passion for marketing and writing every day here at Laurel Valley Soils, and it is my goal to create interesting and useful blogs to help you grow awesome plants, grass and businesses.

I have thought A LOT about what topic is most deserving of our inaugural post. Should we provide an overview of the Laurel Valley Story, or discuss the many advantages of using compost to increase soil’s organic matter? Or do we feature a case study about one of our awesome customers who are doing remarkable things for their soil and their communities? But as I over-pondered this, and as life often works, the perfect topic literally fell into my inbox.

Wait for it…wait for it…

Radnor Top Dresser

Now at first glance, I am SURE you are thinking— WOW— that is one beautiful pile of compost!

And thank you for that—we appreciate it—but the beauty of our “black gold” is not the focus here.

See, this rich, gorgeous compost is being applied to the Radnor Hunt Steeplechase race track for its Annual Event on May 21, and there are extremely high expectations as this course consistently rates a 10 out of 10 from the National Steeplechase Association, and there is $185,000 prize money on the line.

Steeplechase tracks are judged on performance, as the safety of the horses and riders is of utmost importance. For the best traction, the track must have just the right balance of firmness, (not too hard and not too soft), and requires deep rooted turf to prevent both slippery surfaces and divoting. The grass must also be resilient enough to withstand the continual beating and wear caused by the 6 races that take place throughout the day.


Photo Credit Jim Graham

Charlie Fitzgerald of Grass Management, Inc. has been managing this track for over two decades. Every year, five to eight weeks prior to the race, he aerates the soil and top dresses with Laurel Valley Compost to provide organic matter, nutrients and beneficial microbiology. These components help to make the turf more disease resistant while reducing compaction, improving drainage, and encouraging deep root growth. Deep roots allow for better absorption of water and nutrients, while holding the turf in place during the brutal hammering it gets from the horses’ hooves.

Grass Management Inc. Applying Laurel Valley Soils Compost to Radnor Hunt Races Track 2016

So this is why Charlie’s story was the first one we wanted to tell. Many times, turf amendments are applied for the end result of making turf grass look beautiful. But here, the focus is actually on what you can’t see. It’s all about the healthy soil and turf relationship that ensures the prize winning horses and their riders are protected on the big day. The fact that the track looks beautiful is a bonus!

Going to the Radnor Hunt Steeplechase? Bring your #CompostCam and post your pics to our Facebook page! We would love to see them!