Your soil type - sandy, loam or clay - determines which plant species you can grow. Knowing your soil type enables to you to choose the plants best suited to your garden. Soil type is identified the presence of clay, sand and silt. The ideal soil (loam) has equal amounts of all three, which make a fertile, free-draining soil that's easy to dig.
There are six main types of soil: chalky, clay, loamy, peaty, sandy and silty. To test your soil, the first thing to do is take a look at it and feel it. Add some water and try rolling it between your hands. Observe how your soil looks and feels, and whether it's sticky, gritty, friable, or slimy. This will tell you what type of soil you have.
Heavy soil - such as clay soil - is made up of small particles, which bind together easily, making the soil prone to waterlogging. Light soil - such as sandy soil - is made up of large particles, so is free draining and prone to leaching nutrients. You can improve soil by incorporating organic matter, such as manure or home-grown compost. It helps bind large particles together, helping retain moisture, but also increases the size of smaller particles, aiding drainage. Grit or sharp sand will also aid drainage of heavy soils.
Depending on the size of your plot, test the soil from different areas, as it can vary enormously. If possible, create main planting areas where the soil is good, saving poorer conditions for hard landscaping, where soil quality is less important.
Discuss this plant feature
24/11/2011 at 15:28
I garden on clay good clay at the top then a layer of dead clay wich nothing could survive in then below that chalk, I do add different things to the soil to try to make it more pliable but it remains very heavy to dig, waterlogged in winter and cracked up in the summer, I live on a very steep hill side ways on to the garden and it seems that all the nutrients that I add leach off into my neighbors garden, shame they only grow weeds and rubbish.but I do keep struggling on to try and maintain it
24/11/2011 at 15:28
What do you think of 'garden soil testing kits'? Would you recommend a testing kit to me please?
10/04/2014 at 21:06
My soil seems to be a mix of god knows what,,,i was told the land is an old lake bed,,however i digress,,a wild blackberry bush invaded it for many years,,in recent years ive tried containing,,i have not used chemicals on it just manually digging it out,,my question is would this effect the soil type and how??