Gardening 101

6 Types of Soil: How To Choose the Right One for Your Garden


The saying goes, “Dirt don’t hurt.” But all soil is not created equal. In fact, dirt and soil aren’t necessarily the same thing. Dirt is lifeless and soil is teeming with microbes and nutrients and living organisms. Understanding this difference is key to growing a garden you can be proud of. In fact, there are multiple types of soil, and making the right choice of soil amendments for your garden will have far reaching results that will really make your landscaping pop and your veggies more nutritious, not to mention reduce the pest pressure you’ll experience. Sounds good, right? Let’s take a look at the types of soil.

1. Clay Soil

Clay soil is heavy and thick and needs a lot of composted matter, aeration, and patience to get where it needs to be. Taking advantage of a 7-day delivery option on composted organic matter will help you get a jump on the growing season by helping warm the soil.

2. Sandy Soil

A beachy garden is hard to maintain. Water and nutrients run through it before the plants have a decent chance to soak them in. The soil warms quickly and cools down faster too. Root crops enjoy sandy soil, but adding organic matter will help to stabilize the soil structure for better nutrient and water retention.

3. Silty Soil

Silty soil is soft and slick, like soap. It’s nutrient dense and moisture retention is excellent, but it compacts very easily. Compacted soil doesn’t leave plants free to root easily and it doesn’t drain adequately. Organic matter is all silty soils need to make you and your plants smile.

4. Peaty Soil

This spongy soil tends to be more acidic than others. It retains moisture very well, however drainage can be problematic, and organic matter is slow to decay here. That means nutrients aren’t quickly accessible to the plants. Adding plenty of organic matter and lime are helpful.

5. Chalky Soil

Chalky soil tends to be a little stony and is often more alkaline than neutral. This makes it free draining, so it doesn’t retain moisture and nutrients all that well. It’s advised to add humus and pH balancing amendments to balance things out and improve the soil structure.

6. Loamy Soil

Loam is perhaps the most coveted soil. It’s an even mix of silt, sand, clay, peat and chalk. It’s well aerated, has adequate drainage, good structure and holds moisture and nutrients well. It really is the ideal soil for growing a thriving garden. It’s important to remember that loamy soils need to be replenished with organic matter like fallen leaves, compost, manure, etc. to stay fertile and nutrient rich.

It’s pretty easy to figure out your soil type. Simply grab a handful of soil and squeeze it tight. If it stays in form and is kind of sticky or thick, it’s clay soil. If it falls apart in your hand and it’s crumbly, you have sandy soil. When it’s spongy, it’s peaty, and when it holds its shape for just a few seconds, it’s loamy or silty soil. In addition to your soil type, a soil test will help you get the nutrient breakdown on your soil so that you can add more of what will give you bountiful harvests. And no matter what type of soil, it’s important to encourage beneficial microbes and other living organisms like earthworms using Mycorrhizae and compost. Over time you can change a less desirable soil type into your ideal soil.

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