Gardening Tips – The Different Types of Soil

Gardening is enjoyed all over the world by many different types of people, all growing different plants, vegetables and flowers. Due to the diversity nature of gardening, you will most likely come into contact with different types of soil, even in the same patch of earth! Knowing how to deal with them, what kinds of plants will grow best in the different kinds and how to treat any problems is very important – which is why I am going to tell you about each type now.

There are six main types of soil that you will encounter as a gardener. Clay, sand, loam, chalk, peat and subsoil. These six types can also mix together to give you combinations, such as sandy peat or loam clay, but for the purposes of this article, I will just discuss the six main types.


A clay soil is very silky and smooth and will most likely be found a few feet down from the surface of your soil. Clay has a habit of being very water logged and really needs to be drained of water as often as possible. The wetter it is, the thicker and more like cement it will get, making it almost impossible for plants to grow in or through through it.

The clay should be dug over during the Autumn time and left to be deteriorated by the winter frosts. It can also be mixed with lime, which stops it from being so sticky and thick. Also take care during hotter months, as a clay soil will dry as hard as rock and may cause cracks to appear. Clay soil can be hard to work with and troublesome, but it also has a good level of food for plants in it.


Sandy soil is dry and contains smaller particles, sometimes making it lighter in color. Due to the different texture, the soil heats up quickly and there before can be used to plant early crops and plants in early in the year.

A sandy soil is easy to work with, due to it being so fine, but is not very rich in plant foods as it can not retain much moisture.


A loam soil is a mixture of sand and clay. The sandy component is good at keeping the clay from being too sticky and tough and the clay helps the sand retain moisture. Therefore, some see this as a perfect blend. The mix of the two components allows plants to grow easily through the soil as they are not hampered by the thickness of the clay. The clay part of the loam also provides a good amount of rich plant food for anything growing there.


A chalky soil can be a real problem for gardeners. The composition of this kind of soil can cause plants leaves to become yellow from a process called chlorosis. You may also need to add more nutrients to the soil to get the best from your plants, although you will not need to add any lime to this kind.


There are different types of peat, brown and black and they are both made from the continuous decay and growth of plant life over thousands of years. Peat soil is easy to work with, but it often very wet or waterlogged and may need to be drained often. Due to the declining matter in Peat soil, it can become very "sour" and acidic and plants like celery or other acid loving plants will thrive in this kind of soil.


The top player of a garden is usually only about a foot thick and is perfect for planting and growing plants through. Below that is the layer called subsoil which might be as deep as several feet or quite a few meters. It all depends on what your garden is located on top of.

The subsoil helps take away moisture from the upper most layer of soil and there before can be perfect for keeping ground not too wet. If you had a clay soil under sandy soil, it would not absorb the water and your garden would eventually turn into a lake.

Having a good structure of subsoil and then your chosen soil type on top will benefit you as you will be able to control how moisture is trapped in your garden. It is possible to mix and match the soil types as you see fit and depending on which plants you would like to see thrive in your garden. For a beginner, I would recommend using standard subsoil with loam on top.