Learn the Types of Soil to Enhance Your Garden and Lawn
Soil affects the growth of plants, flowers, trees and grass. Therefore, it is very useful to learn about the types of soil and how to work with them.
Soil consists of four main components: humus, air, water, and minerals. Organic matter – the essence of fertile soil, which consists of decaying remains of plants and animals. Air – helps to decompose the organic matter and prevents water-logging. Water – transports nutrients to plants and binds soil particles. Minerals – determine the composition of soils.
Light/heavy types of soil: Light soils have large particles; heavy soils have tiny particles. Clay is a heavy soil, while sand and silt are light. Loam is in the middle – its ratio of large and small particles is almost the same. Loam is loose, crumbly, and easy to handle.
Alkaline/acidic types of soil: Alkalinity/acidity is essential to determine, as many plants and grasses have their preference in this regard. The pH is easy to determine with a test kit. It only takes a few minutes, but can save you from years of fruitless efforts. The soil is alkaline if its pH exceeds 7; the soil is acidic if its pH is lower than 7.
Topsoil/subsoil types of soil: Topsoil is loose, dark, and rich in organic matter. The thickness of topsoil varies. Smaller plants get their nutrition mainly from topsoil. Subsoil is poorer. Subsoil allows the roots to gain a foothold (this is essential for larger plants, shrubs and trees). When digging, try not to bury topsoil into subsoil.
Following we will discuss the main types of soil by composition:
Peat: peaty types of soil are found in damp and marshy areas. Peaty soils are darker, and have a light and spongy structure. They can absorb and retain large amounts of water. Drainage is sometimes a problem, but peat is very fertile and easy to handle.
Silt: Silt soils can be dry and stony or fertile and loamy. The first type can be difficult to handle and limit the gardener. The second type can be great for lawns and a variety of flowers and shrubs.
Sand: Sandy soils are loose and easy to handle. They warm up quickly in spring. The main problem is dryness. Sandy soils cannot retain moisture, so plants wither quickly in dry periods, and even the trees can suffer. You can enhance such soils by adding organic matter and fertilizers. Many plants grow well on sandy soils.
Clay: These are the most complex types of soil. In winter, clay freezes, becomes sticky, and can turn into a solid mass. In summer, it can dry up and crack. It has poor drainage, and makes for difficult weeding.
You cannot change the structure or pH balance of your soil completely, but any soil can be improved substantially by adding other types of soil and fertilizers.