The type of soil you start with is going to determine what plants will thrive in your yard. There are basically five soil types, and knowing what type of soil is in your yard is going to improve your success growing beautiful flowers, vegetables, and ornamentals. Here is a brief primer on all you need to know about soil types.
Chalky soil tends to be slightly alkaline. This type of soil is best for tubers, bulbs, and other plants that prefer alkaline conditions. It can be amended with manure or other organic matter, but chalky soil gets clumpy when wet, so make sure it is thoroughly dry before tilling.
Clay is made of very small particles that stick close together. That’s what makes clay so dense. Clay soil is generally nutrient-rich, but doesn’t drain well. Working in organic material like mulch can help it drain better. All you need to know about soil types, in a sense, is how much organic matter to add.
Sand is comprised of ground rocks. It doesn’t hold nutrients well but it drains readily. Sandy soil needs a lot of amendment, unless you plant things like cleome and crape myrtle that can stand to have their roots dry out between waterings. Sand can be one of the more difficult soil types to work with, due to its poor nutrient content.
Silty soil can be found in areas that were previously riverbeds. It tends to have a lot of nutrients, but can become compacted easily. Plants that can tolerate wet roots do best in silty soil, such as willow, iris, and many vines.
Loamy soil is the preferred type of soil, because it is a balanced mix of the other types of soil. This soil will have good drainage and plenty of nutrients. It requires minimal amendment and many types of plants will thrive in it.
Know Your Soil Types
All you need to know about soil types, really, is which of these types of soil dominates your yard. To determine this, take a soil sample to your local extension office for analysis.