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Bubbles Coming Out Of Soil: Causes and Solutions

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Bubbles from the soil are common and can be seen when the plant in question is watered.

Bubbles emerge from the soil when watered because of air pockets within the soil structure. When watered, the air pocket becomes filled, and the air moves upwards in the form of a bubble. The air within the soil can also be caused by decomposing organic matter, which releases carbon dioxide or methane.

The bubbles formed are usually small, but some can be quite large. The size of the bubble depends on how much gas is inside it and how long it has been trapped in the soil.

This article will explain the underlying causes of bubbles that emanate from the soil when a plant is watered or rain falls and what you can do to fix it.

What Causes Soil to Bubble

Water on top of soil

We have all seen the bubbles in the soil when we have watered our plants. The bubbles are caused by air pockets that get filled with water when we water our plants. These air pockets are caused by an uneven distribution of soil particles, which is why keeping the soil evenly moist is vital.

Some of the most common causes of bubbles in soil are organic matter decomposition, gas production, water saturation, and the creation of air pockets.

Organic Matter

Organic matter decomposition is a process where organic material (such as dead plant material) breaks down and produces gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. These gases can then cause bubbles to form in the soil.

Biological Gases

Gas production is another possible cause of soil bubbles related to the decomposition of organic matter. The decay process produces volatile gases that collect below the surface of the ground and form bubbles when they reach the surface.


Water saturation is a third possible cause for bubbles in soil related to gas production and organic matter decomposition.

When water saturates an area, it dissolves some of the gases that are already present underground, including methane, which can make bubbles more likely to form at or near ground level.

The pressure of the water pushes up against the air pockets in the soil. The air pockets push back, and this causes them to expand and form bubbles.

For keeping my soil at the perfect moisture levels I use this soil moisture meter. It is both cost-effective and durable. Best of all, it also measures pH and light.

digital soil moisture meter

Air Pockets

Air pockets are another reason that can cause soil to bubble. Air pockets are soil areas with no oxygen and are often found in the top layer of a soil sample. 

When a moist layer is applied, it will fill the air pockets with water, which will then evaporate. This evaporation creates bubbles in the soil that can be seen on the surface.

In simple words, Air pockets are created when water seeps into the ground and evaporates. This process leaves behind air pockets that can be seen as bubbles in the soil.

What Causes Air Pockets in Soil

It is known that air pockets are one of the major reasons behind the formation of bubbles. However, it is equally important to know the reasons behind the formation of air pockets in the soil.

Some of the reasons for the formation of air pockets in the soil are explained below:


Worms found in soil

Insects are a significant component of the soil food web, as they are part of the decomposer community. 

They help break down organic matter and release nutrients into the soil. In addition, they also create air pockets in soil by burrowing and decomposing organic matter.

Insects are one of the most common causes of air pockets in the soil. They create air pockets by burrowing into the soil and introducing air into the ground. 

The air pockets can cause various problems, including water drainage issues and increased erosion risk.

Soil Type

Depositphotos 364476298 S
Soil types vector illustration. Labeled educational triangle pyramid scheme. Biological earth structure with agricultural clay, silt, loam and sand diagram. Various different percentage examples.

Soil type is the main factor that causes air pockets in the soil. The different types of soils have different levels of water retention, air absorption, and water drainage. These are the three factors that cause air pockets to form in the soil.

Apart from this, different soils have different porosity, meaning they have different spaces between the particles. 

For example, soils that contain a lot of sand or clay will have a higher porosity than soils with larger particles like gravel or rocks. This causes the formation of air pockets in the soil.

Improperly Packed Soil After Repotting

Improperly packed soil after repotting is a common problem for many gardeners. The problem is that when you repot a plant, the soil may not be properly packed down, and air pockets are left in the pot. 

These air pockets create an environment where water can pool and will not drain out of the pot. This leads to overwatering, which can cause root rot and other plant problems.

Improperly packed soil creates air pockets in the soil. These air pockets will eventually dry out and form a hard crust on the surface.

Packing the soil too tightly can also cause air pockets to form. This is because when you pack the pot too tightly, there is less room for dirt to be compressed, and air pockets are formed.

Decomposition of Organic Material in the Soil

The decomposition of organic material in the soil creates air pockets. Decomposition is a natural process in which microbes and other organisms break down dead plants and animals.

They break down the organic material into smaller pieces, which release gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and ammonia. As these gases are released, they create air pockets in the soil.

The air pockets created from decomposition are significant for plants to grow. The decomposition of organic material produces carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor, all necessary for plant growth.

So, these were some of the major reasons responsible for forming air pockets in the soil.

Here’s an interesting video explaining how to build your soil’s health.

Are Air Pockets in Soil Ok for Roots?

The answer is that it all depends on the plant, the soil, and the air pocket size.

Some plants need a lot of oxygen to survive. And for them, an air pocket is a good thing. But others need less oxygen, and an air pocket can harm them. 

The air pocket size also matters because if it’s too big, the roots might not be able to reach all the way down to get enough water and nutrients from below.

So, it can be understood that air pockets are not a problem for roots. They can be beneficial. 

This is because, in soil with air pockets, more aeration allows the roots to take up more oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

Air pockets also have a protective function because they can resist compaction and protect the soil from erosion.

How do Air Pockets Affect Soil Moisture

Air pockets affect soil moisture by preventing water from reaching the roots and evaporating. Air pockets are cavities in the soil that are created by air, water, or other gases. 

Any number of natural or man-made processes can cause air pockets. 

One such process is when plants draw water up from the root zone and release it into the atmosphere as they transpire

This draws in air which then creates an air pocket. Another common cause of air pockets is when a tree falls over and leaves a hole in the ground with no roots to hold it in place.

Air pockets are those pockets of air that are left at the surface of the soil. Air is a gas, and it is lighter than soil. 

When there is a difference in weight, the heavier substance will sink, and the light will rise.

These are the spaces between soil particles. They affect soil moisture by providing a pathway for water to move through the soil. They can also affect soil moisture in a way because they help to keep it cool and moist.

In other words, air pockets have different effects on soil moisture. The depth of these air pockets is a significant factor in determining their impact on soil moisture. The deeper the air pocket, the more it will affect soil moisture.

How to Improve Soil Quality and Prevent Air Pockets

There are several ways to improve a soil’s quality. One way is to add organic matter such as compost or well-aged manure to the soil. This will help to aerate the soil, thereby aiding drainage. 

Keeping the soil moist and watering the plant when it is due will also go a long way in maintaining the overall health of the soil.

When the soil is allowed to go dry for long periods, it begins to become dry and hydrophobic and pull away from itself, leaving cracks. This also causes water to be repelled when plants are watered. 

The Takeaway

The bubbles are created by the expansion of gases from decomposing organic matter, such as plants or animals. This often occurs in areas rich in organic matter, such as around a tree stump or at the base of a rock formation.

The other reason behind bubble formation is the creation of air pockets within the soil formed due to water saturation. 

When the soil and water mix and come into contact with the gases in the air, bubbles are formed. And this formation of bubbles is a natural phenomenon.

These bubbles have proved to be beneficial for plant growth at stances. Therefore, determine your plant’s needs and see if they can benefit your plant’s long and healthy life.

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