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Soil Types

Melissa Dunlap is a writer, editor and blogger specializing in lifestyle communications. Fueled by curiosity, and a tad too much coffee, Melissa enjoys dissecting current trends for the modern woman. When she's not having dance parties w...

Awareness of your soil type will help you create a better garden.

Soil is an amazing natural resource, providing everything plants need to grow and prosper. All soils contain some level of air, water, organic matter and mineral content. When it comes to gardening, some soil types are superior and have more to offer growing plants.


Soil is an amazing natural resource, providing everything plants need to grow and prosper. All soils contain some level of air, water, organic matter and mineral content. When it comes to gardening, some soil types are superior and have more to offer growing plants.

The most common soil types fall into four divisions, and the soil in your backyard probably contains at least one of these characteristics.

Sandy: Light, loose and easy to dig, sandy soil warms up quickly and provides plenty of oxygen. Although it provides excellent drainage, it doesn't hold water well and leaves much to be desired in nutritive value.

Clay: Clay is heavy and compressed, allowing little room for oxygen. It is nutrient-rich, but its heavy texture makes it hard to dig. When wet clay dries, it becomes rock solid with very poor drainage. Clay soil can be excellent when organic matter is added.

Silty: Silty soil is often found near present or past sources of water, like rivers or streams. It is lighter than clay but heavier than sand, resulting in poor drainage.

Loam: Loam is the ideal garden soil---a balanced blend of sand, silt, clay and organic matter.

A close look at your soil can help you determine what you're working with and what soil amendments you should add to increase your garden's success.
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