Tracy DiSabato-Aust (Garden Designer and Author) gives expert video advice on: Why is it important to know what type of garden soil I have?; How do I know what type of garden soil I have?; What is a garden soil's 'pH level'? and more...
Why is it important to know what type of garden soil I have?
Soil is really, I don't want to be corny, but the root of the situation, because 80% of all plant problems are related to plant soil.
What is a garden soil's 'pH level'?
pH is an indication of the alkalinity or acidity of a soil. It's important because certain plants, like Rhododendrons, Azaleas – we call these irricatious plants – prefer acidic soil, and usually do not grow well in an alkaline soil, or a soil with a high pH. Other plants – some of the Pinks or the Dianthus, Lavenders - prefer more of an alkaline soil and don't prosper as well in acidic soil.
What is 'soil drainage'?
Soil drainage is what it sounds like. It's how water will drain through the soil. It's often affected, if we want to get a little more scientific, to the capillary column and the gravitational pull in the soil. It's important to have good drainage for most plants, as most plants resent poorly draining soil.
How does soil type effect water drainage?
Loam soils or soils with a sufficient amount of organic matter are usually well draining. That's ideal soil. Very few of us, I'm afraid to say, have that type of soil. I find when I speak all throughout the country and into England, no one is happy with the soil that they have. If we have a soil that's heavy in clay or it's a clay structure soil, those are usually poorly drained soils and quite challenging often for plants. Also, on the other end, if it's a very heavy sand based soil it's going to drain excessively which is also difficult for growing plants, because we lose so much moisture that there's no moisture retention for the plants to take up.
What is considered 'ideal' garden soil?
Ideal garden soil would really be a combination of clay, sand, and silt, and it would also be relatively high in organic matter, so it has a combination of nutrient holding capacity, it's well drained, and it has good organic matter in it to improve the soil structure and to provide nutrients.