Knowing Your Soil Conditions

If you’re deciding to get into gardening, it is crucial to know your soil type. No matter how much work and care you put into your garden, everything could be at risk if the quality of your soil isn’t up to par.

Black soil

Here is the six types of soil to know:

  1. Clay Soil:

Clay soil feels lumpy and is sticky when wet, and rock hard when dry. Clay soil is poor at draining and has few air spaces. The soil will warm up slowly in spring and it is heavy to cultivate. If the drainage for the soil is enhanced, then plants will develop and grow well as clay soil can be rich in nutrients.

2. Sandy Soil:

Sandy soil feels gritty. It drains easily, dries out fast and is easy to cultivate. Sandy soil warms up fast in spring and tends to hold fewer nutrients as these are often washed away during wetter spells.

3. Silty Soil:

Silty soil feels soft and soapy, it holds moisture, is usually very rich in nutrients. The soil is easily cultivated and can be compacted with little effort. This is a great soil for your garden if drainage is provided and managed.

4. Peaty Soil:

Peaty soil is a darker soil and feels damp and spongy due to its higher levels of peat. It is an acidic soil which slows down decomposition and leads to the soil having fewer nutrients. The soil heats up quickly during spring and can retain a lot of water which usually requires drainage.

5. Chalky Soil:

Chalky soil is larger grained and generally stonier compared to other soils. It is free draining and usually overlays chalk or limestone bedrock. The soil is alkaline in nature which sometimes leads to stunted growth and yellowish leaves.

6.Loamy Soil:

Loamy soil, a relatively even mix of sand, silt and clay, feels fine-textured and slightly damp. It has ideal characteristics for gardening, lawns and shrubs. Loamy soil has great structure, adequate drainage, is moisture retaining, full of nutrients, easily cultivated and it warms up quickly in spring, but doesn’t dry out quickly in summer.

Hand with a test tube and plant. Fertilizer in laboratory glassware.

To test and find out what kind of soil you have around simply pour water onto your soil. If it drains quickly it is likely to be a sandy or gravelly soil, on clay soils the water will take longer to sink in. Next to test your soil you can grab a handful of soil and compress it in your fist. If it  is stick and slick to the touch and remains in the same shape when you let go it will be clay soil. If it feels spongy it’s peaty soil, sandy soil will feel gritty and break apart. Loamy and silty soil will feel smooth and hold its shape for a short period of time. Finally you can try the settle test. Add a handful of soil to a transparent container, add water, shake well and then leave to settle for 12 hours. Clay & silty soils will leave cloudy water with a layer of particles at the bottom. Sandy soils will leave the water mostly clear and most of the particles will fall, forming a layer on the base of the container. Peaty soils will see many particles floating on the surface; the water will be slightly cloudy with a thin layer at the bottom. Soils that are chalky will leave a layer of whitish, grit-like fragments on the bottom of the container and the water will be a shade of pale grey. If the water is quite clear with layered particles on the bottom of the container with the finest particle at the top – this soil is likely to be a loamy one.

Have further questions on your soil type or how to make the best of it? Creative Vision Landscaping can help! Contact us at (302) 279-0003!

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