Types of Soils


In this article, “Recognizing Your Soil”, Bill Watson identifies the different types of soils and tells us how to amend each one.

For flower gardening, the goal is to loosen earth that has become compacted, and to condition or recondition the soil by replenishing vital minerals and nutrients to promote healthy vigorous growth.

This is best done after the winter rains or frost but before the summer growing season has started. However you can recondition any time the ground is not too wet or frozen to till.

Different Types Of Soils

A clay or heavy clay soil greatly benefits from the addition of organic material. You can never add too much.

Because of its particles’  size and shape, clay tends to become compacted and will drain slowly or not at all. The heavy compact nature of clay tends to prevent air from reaching the roots — thus slow plant growth .

Combining a generous amount of organic material with clay can offset its tendency towards compaction and improve drainage while still maintaining moisture.

A good ratio of clay soil to organic material is roughly 50/50.

Sandy soil, the opposite of clay, generally drains too fast, and is unable to hold onto any nutrients long enough for a plant to use them.Organic matter helps to hold onto water and nutrients, so it’s almost impossible to add too much.

A higher ratio of organic material to sand is good as the organic matter tends to break down faster due to faster drainage (more oxygen).

Clay and sand are at the opposite end of the soil type spectrum. Most gardens are somewhere in the middle. When flower gardening, the addition of organic material in any type of soil greatly improves your garden’s performance.

Organic material can be peat moss, shredded bark, composted or decomposed plant material, some form of manure (generally cow manure), or even worm castings or rice hulls.

Potting soil may have little or no actual “dirt” in it. Organic material helps maintain moisture content levels, increase biological activity, and prevent soil compaction.

Once you have determined what type of soil you have, you must prepare your soil for planting.

Preparing your soil is explained in the next blog post.