How To Know What Soil Type You Have

The soil in your garden is the foundation in which all your flowers, vegetables and trees are anchored, but it does far more than simply bind their roots. The type of soil dictates which plants will grow and how well they will grow .

It insulates the crowns of herbaceous flowers from cold and dry winter winds, enhances the flavor and texture of vegetables, and dictates the intensity of petal color. Above all, it’s a living thing with the same vivacity as the plants that grow from it.

Soil might look brown and lifeless, but among the clods of play, grains of sand and organic matter, billions upon

soil test, lawn care

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billions of microscopic organisms make their home. The principal players are bacteria and fungi the process spent stems and leaves into food that is been taken up by the plant roots. The relationship between plants and microorganisms is a mutually beneficial one, with plants both feeding and being fed. So the more microscopic life in your soil, the better your plants will grow.

While you might not be able to see the microorganisms in the soil you can see worms. Worms are a hallmark of soil and the more you’ve got the better.

What’s beneath your feet?

The best way to find out your soil type is simple- just feel it. Take a piece and add a few drops of water and rub it between your fingers. The way your soil feelsĀ  will tell you which mineral is most pertinent and this will give vital clues as to how it will behave a and how best to cultivate it.

Image: Clare Bloomfield /

So it is categories by the minerals it contains, for example we have what is called Sandy, Clay or loam soil. A loam is basically a mixture of all three minerals plus organic matter and indicates a well balanced soil, but the higher proportion of sand and clay in our soil are the things that really shape its character.

Clay soil: feels sticky and is moldable. It is prone to waterlogging, meaning it should not be worked when Wet and borderline hardy plants can rot over winter. On the plus side, because clay traps nutrients, the growth of the hungry plants such as veg and roses can be prize-winning.

Sandy soil: is rough and gritty to touch and is quick to drain after rain and quick to warm in spring. The downside of this is that it is prone to drying out and nutrients leach out of the easily, so extra feeding is a must.

Chalky soil: is pale in color and is full of white chalk or Flint. It is shallow and hungry and drains faster than sand, so can be bone dry in summer. The plants that grow are limited to those that can cope with the poor diets and high alkaline levels, such as rockery plants.

Silty soil: is silky to the touch but cannot be molded into shape like clay. It is similar to, though less extreme, then

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clay soil-it can suffer from poor drainage, but is not prone to waterlogging, and is one of the most fertile soils. Like Clay, silty soil should not be worked on when wet.

Peaty soil: is black in color and spongy to the touch. High acid levels provide perfect growing conditions for leafy crops. Take care with watering as it can get waterlogged easily, turning boggy in winter but at the same time can be completely dry in summer. It contains fewer nutrients and other types of soil so it is beneficial to feed it regularly.

Loamy soil: is not easily recognizable as it is a combination of sand, silt and clay. This mixture of minerals makes it a trouble free and well balanced soil.

With a little investigation you can easily determine what soil type is in your garden, with this knowledge you would be better equipped to choose a range of plants that will thrive in those conditions.

This is a guest post by Neil from My Garden Hammock. A site dedicated to making the most of your outdoor space and taking the time to enjoy it to the fullest. The site also provides a wealth of information on garden hammock and his favourite type the mexican hammocks


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