Landscape Materials: What Kind of Soil Is Good for Plants?

Determining the best type of soil for plants is Landscaping Materials 101. Providing your Orange County, NY, customers with thriving, hardy plants demands that you choose the appropriate soil for planting them. With a basic understanding of the types of soil as well as their advantages and disadvantages, you can identify and remediate the property’s soil type as well as facilitate the choice of the right types of plantings and soil for your clients’ planting beds.

3 Basic Types of Soil

Soil falls into three basic categories: sand, clay, and silt. All of them have individual characteristics as well as advantages and disadvantages. Optimally, good soil comes down to having the right physical and chemical properties for plant growth. Soil should have the right acidity level, maintain temperatures appropriately, and hold and drain water sufficiently. It needs nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to help plants thrive.

Sandy Soil

Sandy soil provides quick drainage, but lacks appropriate nutrition. These characteristics exist largely because of the large particle size of the soil. Plants that can grow in this soil have little needs in terms of water or vitamins. They’re also those that can handle drastic temperature changes since the soil allows for quick transitions of temperature from night to day. While plants will grow in this soil, it’s not considered optimal nor universal for using with a variety of plant life. Plants will grow dormant earlier in the year, and only specific varieties will find the soil hospitable.

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Clay Soil

Landscape Materials: What Kind of Soil Is Good for Plants? Orange County, NY

Because of the small size and the electric charge of its particles, clay soil offers both a distinct advantage and disadvantage. While this soil has high fertility, or the ability to sustain growth, the drainage isn’t ideal. The texture tends to have soil sticking together instead of crumbling, meaning that it holds onto water incredibly well. Plants that grow in this landscape can handle an overload of water. The soil also makes it difficult for oxygen to find its way through because of the tight clumping.

Silt Soil

With silt soil, you’ll find improvements on both nutrition and drainage. The texture holds fertilizer well and has some level of drainage. However, this riverbed soil can become sodden, drowning plants that aren’t accustomed to great amounts of water. Soil from within riverbeds is known for its vitamin content, but riverbeds are also notorious for being a favorite for water-loving crops.

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The gold standard of planting soil isn’t sand, clay, or even silt. It is actually a combination of equal parts of all three, and this mixture is called loam. Loam checks every box, chemically and physically, with the right pH levels, vitamins, texture, and drainage. Plants will thrive with this soil choice, but you should still add a bit of compost for the best results. You will get the advantages of all three types of soil, all of which serve to counteract the disadvantages of the different types of soil.

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Every landscape has different needs, and every homeowner has different expectations and preferences. If you need advice on the best type of soil for your next project, we can walk you through the options and the disadvantages and advantages of each type. Turn to E.P. Jansen Nursery LLC, your trusted partner for landscape materials.