What type of soil do I have is a commonly asked question among gardeners who are just starting their home gardens. When planting, it is very important to know what sort of base you have and what is the best way to cultivate it.

As new gardeners, you surely cannot judge as you will need good experience in the field, and to get a professional to come and have a look might get expensive.Type of Soil for Plants

So in this article, we will talk about the three types of soil tests that you can deploy to know what type of soil you have and what you can do about it so let us get started.

What Are Ways To Identify The Type of Soil You Have?

The ways you can identify what type of soil you have by doing either a squish test, a ball test, or the jar test. These are the easiest tests you can do to see what type of soil you have, and these tests are not expensive.

There are six major types of soil which include: clay soils, sandy soils, silt soils, loams, peat soils, and chalky soils. These are the most commonly found soils around the world. Other minor types of soils are their combinations in various ratios.

You can judge the type of soil by doing soil tests. These tests will most definitely help you understand what type of soil you have and what you can do to take care of it or enhance its quality. So the soil and the soil structure are basically your canvas; until the canvas is known deeply, you cannot paint your picture. This is why it is very important for you to know what type of soil you have and what you can do about that type of soil.

Your soil is the most important part of your gardening and harvesting, and rightfully so. The soil constituents tell you what type of crops you can grow in them, how much water you will need, whether you need to use compost or fertilizer and whether you can cultivate it at all or not.

– The Squish Test

The first test for judging your soil type is the squish test, also known as the squeeze test, and as the name suggests, you squish the soil in your hand. This test is great for beginners as it is based on the raw judging power of the tester and requires no prior experience in the field. Squishing the soil in your hands will let you feel the soil much deeper, which will let you understand it better, and also, note that for the squish test, you need to get the soil from under the base layer of the soil.

Hold a handful of soil in your hands and squish it slowly to see how the soil falls from your hand and back to the ground. There are three major conclusions that you can make from what you feel during the squish test. If the soil feels gritty and grainy, the soil has a high percentage of sand, so your soil is sandy soil. If your soil feels crumbly, sticky, and very lumpy with some harder bits, the soil has a high percentage of clay and is thus known as clay soil.

There is also a third judgment to this test, which is the most fascinating. If the test doesn’t feel grainy nor sticky but rather smooth and silky, the soil probably has a high silt content and is thus silt soil. This concludes the squish test. Before you pick up the soil for squishing purposes, make sure it is free of any sharp objects that might cut you and from any bugs that might harm you.

– The Ball Test

The ball test is different from the squish test but uses the general idea of feeling the soil and its nature. In this test, you will need some water and a container in which you will mix the soil. Take a few handfuls of soil in the container and add water until you can form a dough with that mixture. After the dough is formed, keep it aside for a while and then test it out.Ball Test Soil

Pinch the soil between your fingers after it has dried a bit, and then judge the soil type. If the ball of soil flattens easily after you have poked it a couple of times, then your soil has high clay content and is; therefore, you have clay-textured soil.

If your soil ball crumbles and falls apart upon touch, your soil has a high content of sand and is, therefore, sandy soil. Finally, if your soil ball breaks into chunks of small sizes, the soil has a high content of silt and is, therefore, silt soil.

All three types of soil that are explained through this test are the most common types of soil. This is a very simple yet effective test that you can use to judge your soil in no time. Before you form a ball of the soil with water and poke it, make sure the soil is clean and does not have any stray materials in it which may cause damage to you.

– The Jar Test

The jar test or settle test is a little different from the squish test and the ball test as it requires a little more effort and is more precise in results. The test is based on judging not a patch of your garden but all of your garden at once.

For this, collect small samples of soil from various patches of your garden, get rid of any and all materials in the soil, and mix and spread the samples on a dry sheet. The soil will get very dry soon, and when it does, put the soil in a jar with some water and liquid dish soap. This is important.

There are many ways of telling the type of your soil, but here we will talk about the ways that are non-invasive, inexpensive, and also beginner-friendly. You can use these ways right now without any additional purchase required. Remember that you must wear protective gloves and clothes before diving into your soil. Other than that, we are all set to get into the three ways you can use to judge your soil type.

Shake the jar violently and let it rest in the corner somewhere for the next 24 hours or so. After the time, different layers of materials will appear in the jar, which will identify the percentage of content in your soil. By carefully judging the sediments formed, you can identify the type of soil you have. The length of the sediment corresponds to the amount of that material in your soil, thus identifying the type of soil you have.

The bottom layer will contain gravel and sand, the second layer will contain sand, the third layer will be silt, and the top layer will be clay. Now you should look at the lengths of each sediment, and you can judge your soil to be of clay, sand, or silt nature. You can now positively form an analysis of your soil and its content.

How To Amend Your Soil Texture?

You can amend your soil texture by using compost or manure, adding peat moss, adding grass clippings, and finally, using cover crops. These ways will help you amend and adjust the type of soil you have, making it more fertile for usage.Amending Soil with Compost

The soil texture plays a great role in your soil type. Even if you do not want to change the soil completely, you can make its texture better and suitable for plantation and other agricultural activities.

– Use Compost or Manure or Grass Clippings

Compost, manure, and grass clippings add a great deal of nutrition and life to the soil. So whatever soil type you have, it will help in preparing it for planting crops and other plants. Mix the compost and manure in the soil and leave the soil to marinate and absorb the nutrients. The soil will become one with the compost and manure, and this way you can amend it.

– Add Peat Moss

Peat moss is best when you want to loosen up your soil. When the soil is hardened and does not allow any plant to enter it, this is an indication that peat moss should be mixed which is very powdery. It allows the soil to let loose and participate in the plantations.Mixing Peat Moss with Soil

– Use Cover Crops

Finally, cover crops are the crops that are grown in order for them to decompose in the soil and bring life back to the soil. They make the soil fertile and are called green manure. The most famous cover crops are soybean and oat crops.

– Avoid Harming The Soil

The main phenomena that ruin the quality of your soil include erosion, drought, nutrient imbalance, water logging, increased salinity, and lastly, increased loss of biodiversity. These all are the reasons why your soil might be losing its quality and declining at a larger rate.Adding Fertilizer to Soil

Some of these reasons cannot be controlled but can be curbed if proper precautions are taken. Try to skip planting crops for a season and focus more on improving the quality of your soil. This will help you save some money and keep your crops from waste.

Instead, you should raise the quality, and for this, you can improve the quality of your soil by adding compost, fertilizer, mulch, and, lastly, rotating the crops each season. These all will greatly help you in improving the quality of your soil. Make sure that you use them in moderation and mindfully.

Before using any of these tactics to improve your soil’s quality, make sure you perform some soil tests first. This allows you to understand the current state of your soil before you start adding more stuff to it. After adding materials, wait and test the soil again to see if the added material has improved or not.


In this article, we talked about how you can tell what type of soil you have, but in case something was unclear, here is a short review for you:

  • You can tell what type of soil you have by doing either a squish test, a ball test, or the jar test.
  • In the squish test, you squish the soil in your hand and judge whether the soil has a high percentage of sand, clay, or silt.
  • In the ball test, you form a ball of soil with water, and on the basis of its reaction to the applied pressure, you judge the soil to be of clay, sand, or silt nature.
  • In the jar test, the bottom layer will contain gravel and sand, the second layer will contain sand, the third layer will be silt, and the top layer will be clay.
  • Use these tests to diagnose your soil type and then effectively make changes to improve it.

Here we come to the end of the article about what type of soil you have. We hope this article was informative and helpful for you.

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