Exploring the different types of soil

Ever wondered what types of soil there are and what makes it.

The definition of soil in the dictionary is "the upper layer of earth in which plants grow: the ground. "

Basically it is the growing medium for plants to grow and there are many different types. Millions of years ago the ground was formed and shaped by the glaciers and this is why there are hills, mountains, rivers and beaches all giving different types of soil.

Thinking about the parts of a plant, when a seed germinates (begins to grow) the root is the first part of the development of a seed into a plant. These provide a way to anchor or hold a plant into the ground letting it grow.

There are chemical processes between the roots and the soil that allows nutrients, gases and water to be taken in and out of the plant and soil. Therefore the soil must have good growing properties for the plant to  survive.

Some different types of soil

Clay Soils

Acidic Soils

Peat Soil

Alkaline Soil

Sandy soil


Some facts about soil

Different soils are made up of particles or bits of different sizes and it is the size of these that give rise to the differences in soils.

A good growing soil has:

A texture that is easily dug with a fork or spade and will be loose and would crumble between the fingers and not feel sandy or sticky.

Organic matter which comes from plants and would be nearly disintegrated (broken down). This provides food for the plant and helps retain water in the ground so the plants can reach it.

Plenty of organisms large and small some of which are tiny and almost invisible bugs that break down decaying things in the ground and releases the energy or food back into the soil to be taken up by the plants again. Beetles, worms and millipedes are the ones we usually see.

A dark colour that indicates plenty of goodness from broken down organic matter and in turn plenty of organisms.

There may also be small stones that help with drainage so the water can drain away but not too quickly.

The spaces between all these bit and pieces in the soil are usually air pockets or pores. These in turn hold water and air that allows the roots of the plant to get nutrients into the plant.

If the pores are filled with water for too long the plant can't breathe and if the air is there for too long then the plant gets thirsty and if left too long will begin to wilt.

Nature is really an amazing thing and everything happens for a reason at the right time.

Book are available that will give you more of the scientific processes that occurs within the soil and between the soil and plants. 

Soil test kits will allow you to find out what type of soil is in your garden.

  1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Types of Soil

Gardens Great and Small Newsletter