Gardens and crops love to have loose, airy soil that drains well while offering enough support to form a solid root base. If it is too sandy, the moisture won’t stick around to provide nutrients, while clay-based foundations often create runoff.
When you know what soil type you have at home to use, it’s much easier to create the garden outcomes you want each year. A few simple techniques can let you know where you stand.
Best Ways to Determine Soil Type at Home
1. The Squeeze Test
You’ll need your soil to be damp to complete this test. It shouldn’t be overly saturated. Once it is wet, grab a small handful of the dirt, rubbing some of it between your fingers.
When it is sandy, the experience will feel gritty. If it is mostly clay, the outcome will seem slimy and slick. If you get a combination of those feelings, you have a reasonable balance.
2. The Jar Test
If you need a more precise result for your soil type, this option provides the accuracy you need. You’ll take some dirt from several places in your garden, mixing them in a bucket. After scooping a cup of it, allow the material to dry on a flat surface. Remove debris, stones, and roots before crushing them into a powder.
The powder should cover one inch along the bottom of a quart jar. Fill it two-thirds of the way with water and use a pinch of salt to help the materials start to separate. You’ll see the results in about a week.
3. The Ribbon Test
You can take a handful of damp soil, rubbing it between your hands. If you can form a ribbon with the materials, it’s mostly clay. When one doesn’t begin, it’s primarily sand. The goal is to have a ribbon start forming, but it breaks when you try to hold it.
You can also hire a laboratory to test your soil so that you know what elements it contains. Once you know that you have the optimum soil type, and a few gnomes to your garden, and you will be all set.