Soil is an absolutely integral component in the success of your farm or garden.  Soil provides plants with a foundation for root structures and a platform for them to receive their nutrients and water.  However, plants are very much like humans, they like to be comfortable.  A soil that is to firm and clumpy will hold to much water and end up blocking oxygen flow to the root system.  Whereas a soil that is to porous will drain water and nutrients to quickly, leaving the plant starved and dehydrated.  Soil pH is also something to consider being that different types of plants thrive at different pH levels.  It is important to heavily consider your soil composition before planting.  Without tending to your soil first, you could be setting yourself up for failure.  Continue reading to learn about the main soil types.

For soil composition check out -> “Soil Composition For All Climates” (Coming Soon!)

Soil Types:

soil types clay

Clay Soil

Clay Soil: Clay soil can be referred to as any kind of soil that contains a high rate of soil particles. While talking about soil, the expression “clay” is essentially a catchall for a group of sticky, thick, and overwhelming materials. Soil that has a high clay content will hold water extensively and allow for plants to have water readily available for uptake by the roots.  However, in areas where it rains daily, clay soil can actually provide to much water to the plant and basically suffocate the plant.  Like many things in life a proper balance is key.  A soil with a balanced composition which includes some clay will provide an optimal environment.  

soil types sandy

Sandy Soil

Sandy Soil: A sandy soil is the result of the breaking down and weathering of a variety of rocks (i.e limestone, quartz, granite). Sandy soils contain mineral particles and small rocks making the texture gritty, and well, sandy.  Sandy soil provides fantastic drainage and is a good option in areas that receive constant rainfall.  However, due to it’s fantastic drainage, sandy soil will drain nutrients as well as water.  If to much water and nutrients are drained away from the root system, plants will have a difficult time surviving.  Much like humans, plants need a steady supply of nutrients in order to thrive.  Once again, a balanced soil composition is the key.  Mixing sand into a soil that is to dense and compact can help create tiny cavities for oxygen to flow in and reach the plant’s roots but sand by itself should almost never be used as soil. 

soil types silty

Silty Soil

Silt Soil: Silt soil is granular in size. However, silt soil does have smaller particles than sandy soil allowing it retain water better.  Silt soil has a very smooth texture and can be compacted very easily.  If you are someone who walks on your soil regularly, you need to be careful to not compact this soil to much.  When silt soil is compacted it destroys the air pockets, cutting of oxygen to the plant.  

Loamy Soil:

soil types loamy

Loamy Soil

Loamy soil is a mixture of clay, sand, and silt.  Loamy soil is the best type of soil to use because it incorporates all the qualities of clay, sand, and silt soils.  The clay and silt content holds water well allowing for a steady supply of water to the plant while the sand particles help to aerate the soil and allowing oxygen to flow to the root systems.  The proper mix of oxygen and water also create a fertile environment for aerobic bacteria to grow, further supplying your soil with nutrients.  The composition of loamy soil depends on where it is from but supplementing it with clay, sand, or silt (depending on your local climate) should provide a healthy soil composition.  

These four soil types are the most prevalent in today’s gardens.  By supplementing your soil with various additives, you can transform your soil into a fertile platform for your plants to thrive.

Read “Best Soil Supplements” to learn about my favorite soil supplements!

Author: Brennan Young

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