Landscaping Soil Types

Landscaping soil types are among the most important secrets to successful gardening. In fact, this aspect of landscaping is often overlooked by most homeowners, who consider only plants’ water needs and ground slope. While soil type is more important for plants to grow quickly and efficiently, it is not so obviously connected with irrigation management and landscaping design.

Water holding capacity of the soil is the most important factor for a well-managed irrigation system and a green, healthy landscape.
Basically, there are four types of soil: sand, loam, clay, and peaty.

Sandy soil consists of the largest single grained particles. Water drains through such soil type quickly and easily, the same goes for the nutrients. To keep the soil texture balanced, you will have to water more often and for a shorter duration.

Silty soil is made up of bigger soil particles; it has more nutrients than sandy soil and retains more water. This type of soil drains well and is much easier for plants cultivation than clay or sandy soils.

Loamy soil has middle-sized particles; it is rich in nutrients, but drains a little slower than the sandy soil. Such type includes 45% of sand, 35% of silt and 20% of clay soils.  It is considered that this soil type is ideal for almost anything that grows.

Clay soil consists of fine, microscopic soil particles that fit together very tightly. This results in tiny pore spaces between them that allow water to move through these particles, but much more slowly than in sandy or silty soils. This type of soil drains slowly and holds much more water than sandy soils.

Peaty Soilis usually found in marshy areas. This soil type is made up of large amounts of humus and is associated with water logs. In most cases, peaty soil is very acid and has few nutrients required for plants growth. This soil has one advantage, though,–in spring, it gets warm very quickly and if fertilizer is added, it becomes a good source for an excellent plant growth.

Utah Soil Types

Utah soil types vary enormously ranging from sand to almost pure clay. Sand and loamy soil textures are more widespread across southeastern Utah, while northwestern areas have more clay soils. However, the truth is that there is almost no place in Utah to have pure soil textures, and soil may differ from one corner of your property to another.

How to Determine Your Soil Type

If you want to get a better idea of your soil type, the best way will be simply to feel it. Grab a small soil sample in the palm of your hand and drop some water on top of the soil. Now rub it with your fingers and see if it is gritty (sand), like moist talcum powder (silt), or slippery (clay).

A more accurate way to check the soil texture is to place a scoop of dry soil in a glass bowl, fill it about two-thirds with water and add a teaspoon of dishwater detergent without foam. Then cover the bowl with the lid and shake for about 10 minutes. After a few days, there will be distinct layers of sand at the bottom of the bowl: silt will be in the middle and clay at the top. If you see that the proportions of soil textures are almost equal, you have a good loamy soil. In case there is more sand or clay, you can balance the texture by adding organic matter such as shredded leaves, compost, or straw to the top level of the soil. If you do this at least twice a year, you will see that plants grow healthier with little fertilizer and have less disease or insect problems.

Tending to plants is very important, but tending to your soil is crucial and is truly the secret to successful irrigation and gardening.