If you’re struggling to grow the garden of your dreams, it might be because your soil is working against you. It’s vitally important to understand your soil type so that you can add the right amendments, water correctly, and even choose the best plants.
Clay soil hangs on to water like it’s getting paid for it. This soil type also retains the most nutrients of all the varieties on our list. That means it needs less amending than other types.
One downside to clay soil–besides the fact that it doesn’t drain well–is that it stays cooler longer into the growing season because the water in the soil takes time to warm up.
This soil is relatively rare because of its origins. It is made up of rotted plant matter and lots of water. If you can remove the excess water, it’s a rich and fertile growing medium.
You may struggle with the balance of moisture in peaty soil, as well as the pH level.
As you might guess, saline soil has a high salt content. If you have salty soil, you’re going to have a hard time growing anything. You may see stunted growth, a white crust on the soil, and leaf burn. Not good!
Sandy soil–as you might guess–contains a high percentage of sand. Sandy soil is dry, gritty, and drains very quickly. This type contains the largest particles of any garden soil, and it crumbles rather than sticking together when wet.
The challenge with sandy soil is holding onto enough water for your plants to get a drink. The fast-draining soil also finds nutrients being washed away too quickly to be absorbed.
This soil type is almost the exact opposite of sandy soil. Silty soil is usually dark and compacts easily when it’s wet.
When you have silty soil, you need to be careful with poorly aerated garden beds. It’s more fecund than sandy soil, but you’ll still need to add rich, nutritive amendments such as well-rotted manure.
The gold standard for garden soil is loamy soil. This soil type is dark, rich, and crumbly–ideal for drainage and aeration. It is made of a perfect balance of silt, sand, clay, and humus.
If you’re lucky enough to have loamy soil in your garden naturally, then congratulations! You won’t have to do much in the way of amendments or elbow grease to grow a beautiful garden.