Soil may seem like a standard product – something you just go to the store and buy, with minimal attention to detail. But any successful gardener will tell you that the type of soil you use is pivotal. Soil is the foundation of your garden, and a vital source of nutrients for your plants. If you are using the wrong soil, all of your hard labor could very well go to waste.
While many soils are similar in composition, their qualities vary greatly. Here’s a basic guide to help you choose the right soil for your garden:
Sand is a loose, gritty soil that drains quickly. While great for shrubs, bulbs and dry-weather plants, keep in mind that sand won’t work well for plants that are more water-reliant, as fast absorption can make it difficult for them to get the nutrients they need. You may also want to add other materials, such as mulch or organic fertilizer, to help hold sandy soil together.
Silt has a smooth, soapy texture, and is relatively easy to work with. It lends itself well to compacting, although it can sometimes retain water for too long. Moisture-loving flowers, trees, and grasses usually grow beautifully in silt, as do most fruits and vegetables.
Composed of partially decayed vegetable matter, peat is an acidic soil that warms up quickly. When drained adequately, peat will do wonders for blueberries, strawberries, and any other acid-loving plant.
Clay soil can be somewhat difficult for first-time gardeners to use, largely because of its weight, poor drainage, and drastic changing of texture between wet and dry. But, it can also be the ideal nutrient-rich soil for perennials, shrubs and high-yielding summer crops.
In stark contrast to peat, chalk is an extremely alkaline soil. Chalk’s high lime content can be damaging to many plans, though, so you will likely want to consider mixing it with peat or compost if you’re using it for the majority of your garden. Otherwise, pure chalk will work for lilacs, lilies and other shrubs.
If you’re overwhelmed by the intricacies of gardening soil, loam is probably going to be your go-to choice. It is essentially a perfectly balanced mixture of sand, silt and clay, which makes it passable for just about any plant. It even holds up well year-round.
Gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby, especially when you have beautiful, healthy plants to show for it. If you want to take it a step further and ensure that your garden is always in top shape, contact High Tech Landscapes for residential landscaping services including lawn, tree and shrub care. We have been one of New Jersey’s premier landscaping companies for 30 years!