Types of Soil

The Different Types of Soil


There are many different types of soil, which vary greatly from continent to continent. Soil can be classified by its properties, behavior and genesis. The three main types of soil are:

  • Sand - Made up of large particles. It drains quickly and is often used to break up clay soil in the garden.
  • Silt - Made up of medium sized particles. Very dusty and will erode quickly if not kept moist.
  • Clay - Made up of very small particles. It compacts easily and needs soil amendments such as sand and peat moss.

The type of soil you have will determine when and how you plant your garden in the spring.



There are typically five layers to the soil found in your garden:

  • Organic top layer - a very thin layer
  • Topsoil
  • Subsoil
  • Parent material
  • Bedrock



The subsoil is just as important as the topsoil. It is lighter in color than topsoil and it is where water is reserved.



Bedrock is usually not found when digging a few feet down in a typical garden. If you have bedrock near the surface, consider constructing raised gardens.



Sand can be home to many plants; especially those that live near the ocean.

Palm Tree in Black Sand


The black sand of Hawaii provides the perfect soil for growing palm trees.

Silt Soil


Silt soil is perfect for certain plants, such as these young celery plants.

Cracked Clay Soil


Many plants can't survive the harsh nature of clay soil. In dry weather it can kill all but the hardiest of plants.

Death Valley, California


While clay soil is hard on plants, the salt flats found in some areas of the world prohibit any plant growth. The ground is mainly comprised of sodium chloride.

Australian Red Soil


The red soil in Australia is known as terra rossa. It is comprised of the following minerals: plagioclase, biotite and interstitial quartz and hornblende. It is home to many grape vines.

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Types of Soil