The Different Types Of Soil And What You Need To Know
- What Are The Different Types Of Soil For Planting ?
- How to check the type of soil?
- Why Soil Plays An Important Factor For A Plant’s Growth ?
- Importance Of pH Level Of Soil
- Importance Of N-P-K In Soil
- Importance Of Soil In Lawn/Garden
- How Should I Select Best Soil For My Plants
- Preferred Soil To Grow Flowers
- Best Soil To Grow Vegetables
- Best Soil To Grow Indoor Plants
- How To Prepare Your Own Potting Soil?
- Best Amendments For Soil
- How To Add Organic Matter Into Soil?
- How To Mix Fertilizers Into Soil?
- Ways To Keep The Soil Healthy And Fertile
The most important thing for a gardener is to learn about different types of soil. The reason is simple, the soil is the key factor that impacts the growth of a plant. If you’re planning to start your own garden but don’t know what kind of soil you should select, this post is for you.
Here you will not only learn about different types of soil, but also other things like how to prepare your soil mix, how to amend your soil and more. So, without any further ado, let’s begin!
What Are The Different Types of Soil For Planting?
Just like we eat food to supply nutrients to the parts of our body, plants also need to supply nutrients to their parts. They get these nutrients from the soil they grow in. We can say that the soil is the food source of plants. It supplies essential minerals, water and air that are needed for their good health. Obviously, if a plant doesn’t get the right soil, it will die sooner or later.
Different kinds of soils have different properties. You can alter the quality of your soil by making some necessary additions in it. There are basically six types of soil. Each type is defined by its own characteristics. These soils include loamy, clay, sandy, chalky, peaty, silty.
1. Loamy Soil
Loamy soil is basically a mixture of sand, silt and clay. It is moist and has a very fine texture. This type of soil is considered as the best garden soil. It is best for growing most of the vegetables and flowers. Therefore, you’re lucky if you have this kind of soil in your lawn or garden.
Loamy soil is considered to be the best because it is rich in nutrients and provides enough drainage. It is slightly acidic in nature. However, it washes out the nutrients very quickly. So, you have to make sure that the nutrients are added back to it on a regular basis by using manure and composite.
Positives: Loamy soil has good drainage properties and is nutrient-rich.
Negative: The acidic nature will dry out the plant if the nutrients are not added regularly to it. Also, plants that don’t prefer acidic soil will die in loamy soil.
Plants that grow well in Loamy soil:
Vegetables, Climbers, Berries, Root Crops etc.
Plants That Don’t Prefer Loamy Soil?
Tomatoes, Beans, Cabbage, Cacti etc.
2. Chalky Soil
Chalky soil is a grainy soil. It has large particles of stones, specifically the limestone. This type of texture makes it free draining. It is alkaline in nature. Hence, it dries out the soil quickly and cause yellowing of the leaves.
Chalky soil is easier to work with, you can add different additives to make it rich. You can also adjust its pH levels by adding good quality fertilizers, and humus to it.
Positives: Chalky soil provides excellent drainage and is very easy to handle.
Negatives: It is highly alkaline, therefore acidic plants don’t grow well in it.
Plants That Grow Well l In Chalky Soil?
Spinach, Beetroot, Corn, Cabbage, Lilacs etc.
Plants That Don’t Chalky Soil?
Blueberries, Tomatoes etc.
3. Peaty Soil
Peaty soil has a texture similar to the peat moss that we generally use in our gardens. It is dark in colour and becomes damp and spongy when watered. This is also one of the best kinds of soil to grow certain plants. It is acidic in nature, therefore it slows down the decomposition reaction. When the peaty soil is mixed with organic compost and humus, it becomes incredibly good for a plant.
However, it sometimes results in soil losing its nutrients for plants. Also, in hot springs the peaty soil gets baked quickly. It can also have some drainage problems.
The good idea to work with peaty soil is to create a good drainage system in order to drain out extra water. Also, add some lime to reduce its acidity.
Positives: It contains a good amount of nutrients that are required for plant growth.
Negatives: It is extremely acidic in nature and has poor drainage property.
What Grows Well In Peaty Soil?
Root Crops, Salad Greens, Brassicas, WitchHazel etc.
Plants That Don’t Prefer Peaty Soil?
Tomatoes, Pepper, Eggplant etc.
4. Silty Soil
Silty soil is very soft and soapy to touch. It has a very smooth texture. It is rich in nutrients and holds the moisture to a great extent. Silty soil is the favourite soil of the farmers and gardeners because it is good for cultivation. To help the drainage, silty soil can be mixed with other soils and to provide a good texture organic matter can be added.
Positives: Rich in nutrients and hold the moisture better.
Negatives: Drainage is not good and gets compacted.
Plants That Grow Well In Silty Soil?
Most of the vegetables and fruits grow excellent in silty soil. For example: Most of the vegetable plants, Climbers, Perennial plants, Willow and Birch Trees etc.
Plants That Don’t Prefer Silty Soil?
Root plants like Carrots and Parsnips.
5. Sandy Soil
As the name suggests, sandy soil has big sand granules and is gritty. It drains fast and get dried very quickly. Due to the lack of moisture, most of the plants don’t like sandy soil. But those who prefer this type of soil, do well in it. Also, sandy soil gets heated up quickly in the summer season and doesn’t lock the nutrients in. To work with it, a good amount of organic matter or a mixture of fertilizers like rock dust and kelp meal should be added. In order to protect it from the sun, mulching should be done.
Positives: It drains quickly and is easy to work with.
Negatives: lack of nutrients, less fertile.
Plants That Grows Well In Sandy Soil?
Vegetable roots like carrots, potatoes, and parsnips, Lettuce, Strawberries, Sweet Corn Squash etc.
Plants That Don’t Prefer Sandy Soil?
Cabbage, Broccoli, Peas etc.
6. Clay Soil
Clay is the most common soil that is widely available. It is rock hard in the dry state but becomes very soft and sticky once water is added. It is extremely thick and dense. It has poor drainage property as it doesn’t have any air pockets. In spring, it warms very slowly and becomes harder to work with. However, if the clay soil is added with other types of matter to increase its drainage then it becomes ideal soil for cultivation.
Positives: Clay is rich in nutrients as compared to other types of soils.
Negatives: The only problem with clay is its poor drainage. It clogs water and becomes very hard.
Plants That Grow Well In Clay Soil?
Vegetables, Fruit trees, Ornamental trees, Perennial plants etc.
Plants That Don’t Clay Soil?
Root Veggies like Carrot and Parsnips. Also, some berries.
How To Check The Different Types Of Soil?
Now that you know the importance of soil and are learning about the different types of soil. You should step further to test and determine the type of soil you have. Here is a simple experiment that you can perform to find out your soil type.
Take a handful of soil in your hands and put some water to moisten it well. Now, make a ball out of it by kneading the dough.
After that, observe its properties closely to know its type. The common characteristics are mentioned below :
- If the ball rolls out smoothly and looks shiny then, it is clay soil.
- If the ball doesn’t roll out well and feels gritty to touch, then it is sandy soil.
- If the ball is sticky as well as gritty in texture, then it is loamy soil.
- If the ball doesn’t roll out well and breaks apart, and also feels like a sponge then it is peaty soil.
- If the ball feels very buttery and takes some effort to roll, it is silty soil.
- If the ball doesn’t roll well at all and feels rocky then it is chalky soil.
Why Soil Plays An Important Factor For Plant’s Growth?
Soil acts as a core for the growth of plants. All the plants be it herbs, shrubs, trees and grass needs a good quality soil to grow. It not only supports the structure of the plant and keep it intact to the ground but also provides many other essential nutrients required for its growth. A plant’s health and wellness solely depends on the type of soil used. Hence, the proper knowledge and the right soil selection is extremely important.
Let’s discuss the importance of soil on the basis of several factors.
1] Different Type Of Plants Require Different Types of Soil
While gardening, you can’t just grow all the plants in the same kind of soil, you need different types of soil. If you’re doing this, then you need to stop right away. Each plant has its own soil requirement and growing conditions. Here are the different factors on the basis of which different plants survive :
The percentage of moisture they require.
The amount of sunlight they require.
The type of temperature they require.
How much disease-prone the plant is?
The type of soil they grow in and also its qualities.
So, in order to grow a healthy plant, selecting the right soil and preparing it is the very first step in gardening.
2] The Poor Soil Increase The Weed Growth
The overall health of the plant depends entirely on the soil. If the quality of soil is not good, weed will start growing. Hence, your garden will be filled with undesirable plants rather than the desirable ones. It will affect the overall landscape of the garden. Also, if your plants are continuously failing despite of use of many fertilizers, the reason can be the soil. Therefore, determine the requirements of your plants and try to fulfil it through the right selection of soil. Here are some of the changes you can carry out :
- Make sure the soil drains the excess water properly.
- Make sure soil holds enough moisture.
- Balance the pH level according to the need of the plant.
- Make sure you use a good amount of organic matter.
- Make sure soil has enough nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Make sure the soil has enough air pockets.
- Don’t let the soil heat in the sun. Protect it using mulch.
3] The Bacterial Action In The Soil Makes It Rich And Fertile Which In Turns Flourish The Plants
Soil is not just the dirt beneath the ground. It is much more than that. There are many living organisms such as fungi, bacteria, protozoan, dead plants, worms, insects etc inside the soil. This matter is responsible to replenish the soil with all the essential nutrients. More the dead matter inside the soil, more will be its fertility. The soil which has no form of dead matter and microorganisms in it becomes useless for plant growth.
The reason is, these bacteria and other microorganisms helps the plant to make its food. Other chemical compounds present in the soil helps the growth plant in many ways. These bacteria convert those chemical compound into a simpler form that can be used by the plants.
Soil acts as an interactive medium for plants and animal life cycle.
4] Soil Maintains The Balance of Air And Water
The roots are the life-bearing parts of the plant. Their function is to supply water and nutrients from the soil to the plants. Soil directly affects this ability of the roots.
Soil is basically made up of the following articles :
- Mineral particles of different size like sand, clay, silt
- Organic matter like dead plants, insects, worms, microorganisms etc
The best type of soil is the one which locks the moisture and meanwhile allows the air to flow from soil to roots. It should not contain the excess of anyone items. When the air flows through the soil, it takes the oxygen towards the root and microorganisms and discard the carbon dioxide from the soil.
When it comes to the other components of soils, sand provides good drainage and aeration but it doesn’t have any water-holding ability. Similarly, the clay has excellent water-holding ability but it fails to provide air to the plant.
Coming to the organic matter, it can either increase the moisture-holding ability of the soil or can provide better aeration. It is majorly crucial to the growth of worms in the soil which are responsible for making soil porous and fertile by their tunnelling movement.
Hence, soil is important for maintaining the air and water flow to the plants. In absence of any of these phenomena, the plant can not survive. The ideal soil should contain all the components in the right proportion.
Importance Of pH Level Of Soil
The pH level of these different types of soil influences the growth of the plant. The acidity in the soil is an important factor to keep in mind. pH level is a measure of the amount of acidity in the soil.
The pH level of soil affects plant health and growth in the following ways :
- pH level decides the amount of nutrients present in the soil.
- pH level is responsible for the activity of microorganisms which directly affects the fertility of the soil.
- pH level impacts the root cells of plants. It alters the ability of roots to absorb water and minerals from the soil.
- pH level dictates the amount of other minerals like aluminium and phosphorus which can be extremely harmful if present in excessive amounts.
Almost all the vegetable plants and most of the ornamental plants love to grow in slightly acidic soil. For those who don’t know, the pH scale starts from 1 to 14. The pH level 7 depicts neutral, less than 7 is acidic and greater than 7 is alkaline. The lesser the number from 7, the higher will be the acidity. So, the veggie and ornamental plants grow well in pH level 6.0 to 6.8.
The pH likeness of plants can be determined by using different tables and charts that are available. Testing the pH level of soil and maintaining it accordingly can help in growing and flourishing the garden.
If the soil has problematic pH levels, the plants will face the same.
Importance of N-P-K In The Soil
The primary and most crucial nutrients of the soil are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These are collectively known as NPK. These are supplied to the soil by the means of artificial fertilizers. These values of N-P-K are mentioned cleay at the package of fertilizers. It shows the percentage of each nutrient by net weight.
Nitrogen(N) : It dark green colour of the leaves in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach is due the presence of nitrogen. It is responsible for the growth of leaves and stem. To increase the nitrogen in soil, you can add organic manure, kelp meal, blood meal, fish or seaweed.
Phosphorus (P) : It is responsible for the root growth of the plants, flowers and fruits. It basically helps in seed production. Phosphorus is very important for plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and pepper once the flowers gets pollinated. To increase the Phosphorus content in the soil, you can either add rock phosphate lr bone meal.
Potassium (K) : It is important for the overall health of the the edible plants and also improves the taste of fruits kr vegetables like carrot, turnips, garlic and onions. To improve the potassium content, add wood ashes, gypsum or greensand.
You can always flourish your soil by using natural fertilizers and manures. Avoid using excessive chemicals on your soil. It not only degrades the quality of soil, but also effects the quality of the edibles. The organic fertilizers are slow acting hence, do not burn out the plants. On the other hand, the artificial fertilizers are fast-releasing in nature and hence can burn the roots.
Importance Of Soil In The Garden Or Lawns
Lawns and gardens are mainly important to provide a good landscape to the house. It beautifies the overall look of the place and makes it more lively. A healthy and well-maintained lawn is what everyone wishes for. However, not everyone is capable of doing that. Some lawns are so beautiful and well maintained that they make their owner proud. On the other hand, some lawns are just so dead and lifeless. The reason is the difference in maintenance.
With such popularity of lawns, people have started paying special attention to keep their lawn very attractive and healthy. They even don’t mind investing some money for maintaining them. However, maintaining a beautiful lawn may or may not require money but it definitely requires patience, hard work and time.
The most important thing for a well flourished lawn or garden is the type of soil. No matter how exotic and expensive ornamental plants you buy for your lawn, but if the condition of the soil is poor, nothing can be done.
The biggest requirement for a lawn is the right soil.
In case of grass lawn, it asks for high maintenance. It needs to be pruned at regular intervals. Since the grass keeps on growing, it is important to trim it weekly. Just like other plants, the health of a lawn depends on the soil. Additionally, lawns suffer much more than regular plants. The reason is irregular temperature, improper care, lack of nutrition etc. If you’re observing the poor health of your lawn, then it’s the right time to make changes to the soil. Apart from merely spraying fertilizer, it needs a good examination and then proper treatment.
If the top surface of the lawn seems compacted which is the most common issue, the roots might not be able to maintain the flow of moisture and air freely. Soil that lacks in organic matter doesn’t allow the roots to absorb the moisture and nutrients from it and supply to the other parts of plants.
An over-watered or under-watered soil kills the activity of microorganisms that are responsible for the fertility of the grass.
How Should I Select the Best Soil for My Plants?
Selecting the right soil for your plants is not difficult at all. You just need to have some basic knowledge and once you learn it, you can easily choose the right soil. Here are some ways by which you can select the best soil :
1] Choose The Soil According to the Type Of Plant
First thing to do is, know your plant. The soil you’re using should be suitable for the plant you’re planning to grow in it. Suppose, you want to plant some vegetables then, the soil should be loose and moist so that it doesn’t restrict the roots from growing. Also, it supplies the essential nutrients to the parts of a plant.
2] Choose The Soil On The Basis Of Its Quality
Pay special attention to the quality of soil you’re choosing for your plants. The best soil is one that has the right proportion of different kinds of soil. It should not have an excess of sand or clay. For this, examine your soil and prepare it according to the plant you’re planning to grow in it.
3] Choose The Soil On The Basis Of Area You’re Planting In
The soil selection depends on the area in which you’re planning to grow your plants. Suppose, you’re planting in huge pots instead of ground. You will require more nutrient-dense and rich soil. The potting plants require soil that holds the water well. It should be able to handle over-watering and under-watering. Hence, if you’re planting in big pots, use a high-quality soil. If the soil is not good enough, the plants will not thrive.
4] Prepare Your Own Soil
After you find out the requirements of your plant. The good idea is to prepare your own soil according to the needs of your plant. It is a step by step procedure. Start by determining the type of soil you have with you. It can be your garden soil or soil from some other ground. Now, you need to add a certain amount of composite and other things to make it ideal for the growth of the desired plant.
What Is Best Soil To Grow Flowers?
Each flower plant has some different soil requirements. The type of soil depends upon the growing technique of the flower such as whether it is grown with a seed or by stem.
Most of the flower bulbs grow well in sandy loam soil. It offers gold drainage and doesn’t let the bulb decay, so that the roots grow freely.
If you’re growing flowers in pots, then potting soil is also a good idea. It has excellent texture and provides good drainage too. You can also prepare a soil mix with compost, topsoil and peat in the ratio 1:1:1 for your flower garden.
What Is The Preferred Soil To Grow Vegetables?
If you’re growing veggies in your garden, the quality of soil depends upon the type of your garden. If you have a raised bed garden, you will need equal portions of compost and topsoil. Similarly, if your garden is field type, you will need a soil that provides good drainage.
If you’re using clay soil, then you have to make sure that it is amended well. Anything such as gypsum, perlite, expanded shale can be used to improve its drainage.
What Is The Best Soil To Grow Indoor Plants?
Never try to use your garden soil to grow indoor plants. Reason is, the garden soil contains a lot of harmful bacteria’s that can rot your plants. There are many potting soils available in the market for growing indoor plants. But, in case you don’t want to invest in store-bought potting soil, you can either make your own potting mix or another option is to sterilize the garden soil. Both of these points are covered below.
How to Prepare Your Own Potting Soil?
Indoor plants have gained much popularity over the recent years. They not only enhance the beauty of your home but also purifies the air naturally. Some indoor plants even help in keeping the insects away. When it comes to the right soil selection for indoor plants, many people make the common mistake of putting the regular garden in indoor plants. It is a bad idea as we have already mentioned above. So, what kind of soil to use instead?
Potting soil is considered to be the best for growing indoor plants. You can either buy a readymade potting soil or you can prepare it on your own.
Moreover, if you don’t want to do either of the two options, the third option is to sterilise the garden soil to use for indoor planters. You can select any one of the below-mentioned methods for planting indoor plants.
1] Sterilize The Garden Soil
If you want to use your garden soil for indoor plants, then you have to perform Sterilization and make it good enough. This process helps in cleaning the soil by removing weeds and harmful bacteria. It is not at all hard as it seems. All you need is a butter paper and a tray. Spread the soil in the baking tray lined with butter paper. Now, put it in the oven at 180� for about 30 minutes. And voila!! It’s done. Isn’t it easy-peasy lemon squeezy?
2] Prepare Your Own Potting Mix
If you want to save some money and want to make your own potting mix, then you can do that very easily. The first step is to sterilize the garden or outside soil by the above-mentioned method. After it gets sterilized, you have to mix certain things to amend it. Once you make it, it can be used in almost all the indoor plants and the quality will last for a really long time.
Materials You Will Require :
- Half cubic yard perlite
- Half cubic yard peat moss
- 5 pounds each limestone and blood meal
- 10 pounds bone meal
Take a large container and put all the ingredients and mix well and evenly.
After mixing it, put it in a dry airtight container and use as required.
Best Amendments For The Different Types Of Soil
The best thing you can so with your soil is to add organic matter. It makes the level pH ideal for majority of vegetables and fruit plants. Basically, you can improve any type of soil by adding organic matter. The good thing is, it is available for free. You don’t even need to invest in it. The common examples of organic matter includes farmyard aged manure, leafmold from dead leaves and plants, garden compost, vegetable peel compost etc. These are absolutely free from harsh chemicals and herbicides.
Following are the best soil amendments that can be used to improve the fertility of the soil :
- Bark Compost : It can be made from the barks of different trees. Its mainly improves the texture of the soil and make it more aerated.
- Natural Compost: It conditions the soil by adding nutrients and lowering the high acidity of soil.
- Leaf mold: Leaf mold not only improves the structure of soil but also enhances the fertility of the soil.
- Lime: It increases the acidity of the soil.
- Manure: Aged manure os excellent in conditioning the soil.
- Peat Moss : It helps the soil by lowering the pH level amd also helps to drain the soil.
- Sand: It enhances the drainage ability of clay soil.
- Topsoil: Topsoil can be used to replace and substitute the poor quality soil.
How To Add Organic Matter Into The Soil?
In order to get the most of it, the organic matter should be added properly to the soil. Here is how to do it :
Spread the organic matter on the ground in good quantity. Is should be at least two inches deep. Now, leave it like this during the winter months and let the worms and microorganisms do their jobs.
By the middle of spring, the matter will be incorporated with soil by itself.
If you are planning to plant new crops, scrap the surface a little before a week or two.
How To Mix Various Fertilizers In Soil?
Preparing these different types of soil is no less than an art. It requires proper knowledge and patience to work with soil. When it comes to mixing fertilizers in the soil, you should be very careful. The fertilization should be done in the right composition otherwise it can ruin the quality of the soil.
To help you with this, here are some of the best tips to amend the soil :
1] For amending heavy clay soil, add organic matter to it instead of sand. OM creates air pockets and improves its drainage.
2] For amending sandy soil, add OM instead of clay to make it rich in nutrients.
3] The best season to fertilize ornamental plants and shrubs in spring. It is very important to fertilize at the right time because doing it late can mess with the health of the plant.
4] Spring and Summer are the best seasons to fertilize the indoor plants.
5] For fertilizing a vegetable bed, keep the fertilizer in the crop row about 2 inches away and deep inside. Carry this out in spring and later in the season, carry out nitrogen fertilizer near the growing plants as side-dressing.
6] Adjust the pH level of garden soil to ensure good health of your plants. Also, don’t leave the soil unused after cultivation. Use some cover crops to maintain the amount of nutrients of the soil.
7] If you want to fertilize your lawn, first determine what kind of growth you want. If you don’t want much growth, no need to fertilize. If you want growth, then use slow-release fertilizers. Spray max 2-pound nitrogen for 1000 sq ft land on a yearly basis. Do this in two sessions. First during spring and second session before September 15. Also, avoid it in mid of summers.
8] Don’t compact soil by walking or driving. It ruins the soil and makes it very hard. Use paths to walk. Don’t plant in drenched gardens, wait until the soil dries.
9] Don’t leave the soil bare. Either replant the area or use cover crop to protect the soil from getting compacted.
Ways To Keep The Different Types Of Soil Healthy And Rich
These different types of soil take a long time to replenish the nutrients. Therefore, it is very important to maintain its quality and prevent it from getting worse. Here are a few tips that will help you to keep your soil healthy and fertile. By following these simple steps you will surely be able to keep your plants and your garden greener and healthier.
1]If the soil traps too much water, it can be harmful to the plants. So, proper drainage is very important. It will also help in preventing soil erosion. To help drainage, look for the area with some low slope. Now, dig a trench and fit a drainpipe running down the slope. Put some gravel around the pipe to prevent it from getting clogged.
2] Always mix the sandy soil with organic compost to improve the nitrogen levels which will gradually result in higher yields.
3] Use organic compost and fertilizer as far as possible. Always follow the instruction manual and do use in excess. Use only recommended amounts.
4] Tilling at regular intervals is very important to maintain the quality of the soil. Don’t tell when it is wet. When the soil becomes quite crumbly, it is ready to till.
5] Same as tilling, mulching the soil from time to time is very important.
So, that was everything you needed to know about the different types of soil. Always remember that, a good soil is the key for healthy plant.
Now, that you know everything about the different types of soil, be it the types of soil, its importance and various uses and preparations. You are ready to start and nurture your own garden. Keep gardening!!