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First Step First... What is Your Soil Type?

Before you plant a single plant, you first need to know what your soil type is: clay, silt or sand, or a combination of all three.

These three types of soil particles have different structural qualities due to their size and shape. Sand particles are the largest, silt particles are medium size, and clay particles are very tiny; see the diagram below to understand the distribution of soil types:

Based on a gradient with these three categories: sand, clay and silt, soils can be any combination of the three. Two common soil types are sandy loam and silty clay.

How do you find out your soil type? Well, you can take a scoop of soil to get tested for structure and pH, but an easy but effective option is to grab a handful of damp soil, squeeze it tightly and open your palm. If the soil stays together and retains it's squeezed-shape, you likely have clay-based soil. If the soil falls apart loosely in your hands, or even falls through your open fingers, then you mostly likely have sandy soil.

Now you know your soil type, what do you do next?

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