• Shelby Pietersen

Understanding soil quality

Having good-quality soil is vital for trees to flourish. Each tree requires a different soil. There are numerous soil qualities and they each have names. Remember that soil quality is measured on a spectrum of particle size, so your soil could be in between two types. The most common soils are sandy, silt, clay, peaty, loamy, and chalky. What works for your lemon trees won’t necessarily work for your blueberry bushes.


Soil consists of many things: nutrients, minerals, water, liquids, oxygen, and other gasses. The ratio of one soil component to another varies on the environment and, specifically, the plants and other creatures that are living in the soil. Soils vary from one location to the next, but one thing they share is their visible layers or horizons.


The composition or quality of the soil is identifiable by how it settles. When you don’t have

healthy soil available, you can mix soils and other components together to change the texture. This will create soil that is more suitable for planting whichever tree you most desire. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite simple. The trick is to get your hands dirty and start experimenting.


6 Main Soil Types


Sandy:

Sandy soil has a rough texture and loses moisture easily. The soil base is loose making it harder for plants to access nutrients. Another reason for this is that sandy soil is more acidic (meaning it has a lower pH). Acidic soil is great for growing Hydrangeas, berries, and fynbos.


Silt:

Silty soil is composed of fine particles and has a smooth, slippery texture. It's tightly compacted and can serve as an advantage in retaining moisture and nutrients. This can be a problem with some plants that don’t like having wet roots for very long.


Clay:

Clay soil feels lumpy and sticky when it's very wet. It is the most tightly packed soil

with little air space, making it difficult for air and moisture to penetrate the soil. When clay soil dries, it can be difficult for the delicate roots of many plants and trees to break through the soil and it can stunt optimal growth.


Chalky Soil:

Chalky soil is usually stony and lays on top of limestone or bedrock. It will require more nutrients to support plant growth. This soil type is similar to sandy soil, although chalky soil has a more alkaline pH.


Peaty:

Peaty soil has a much higher proportion of organic matter because the biomass has not yet had time to compost enough. There are fewer nutrients than loamy, but it holds water well and can easily be amended.


Loamy:

Loamy soil is the most ideal, nutrient-rich soil. It drains well, is jam-packed with nutrients, and holds water well. It is important to note that loamy soil is considered the best because it is well-balanced.


As stated before, there are six main types of soils to keep in mind. When looking for the best soil for planting trees, loamy soil is the soil type you should be looking for. Otherwise, you'll be able to get away with peaty, silty, or possibly even clay soil. In most cases, a homeowner’s best shot is to go for loamy soils.


More on loamy soils

This is a well-balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay particles. This mixture helps counteract the drawbacks of each soil type. As a result, loamy soil is fertile, and it drains water properly. A loamy soil combines all three of these types of particles in relatively equal amounts.


Loamy soil is ideal for most garden plants because it holds plenty of moisture but also drains well so that sufficient air can reach the roots.


Introducing loam soil to your garden is an affordable solution that works great for giving your plants a boost. The best part is that you can make it by amending any existing soil you may already have. However, remember to add organic matter consistently to your soil as well.​


Now that you have all the necessary information about the different types of soil and which is the best for your garden, it is time to stick your fingers into the ground and start planting some trees.


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