How to improve your soil

Good quality and healthy soil is essential for growing strong, vigorous plants that resist pests and diseases and produce abundantly. Learning how to improve your soil can be a game changer to any gardener who thought their soil was impossible to grow in.

No matter where you start, we’ve got a few tips to making any soil better and ultimately transforming ailing, lifeless soil into rich, brown gold!

Testing the soil type you have

Did you know that you get different types of soil, and that each soil type has different characteristics when it comes to gardening? We suggest testing your soil to find out what type of soil you have before planting up a new bed, garden, pot, or veggie patch.

Soil is broadly classified into loam, clay, and sandy soil. There are two simple tests that can be done to help you determine what your soil type is:

Wet an area of soil, collect a handful, roll it into

a sausage shape and then gently bend it.

  • If it is very crumbly and breaks before bending, it means your soil is sandy.
  • If it holds its shape and then breaks slightly when bending, then it’s loamy soil  (ideal).
  • If it bends and holds its shape (without breaking), it means your soil is clay.   

2. The ball test

Wet an area of soil, collect a handful, and roll it into a ball.

  • If the soil particles won’t bind together, the soil is sandy.
  • If the soil molds to a loose ball but breaks easily, then it’s loamy soil (ideal).
  • If the soil retains its shape after molding, it’s a clay soil.

Working with your soil type

Once you have established what soil type you have, you will be able to implement a suitable plan of action for its improvement or sustainable management.

Loam soil

Loam soil is ideal for planting your flowers and plants in. This soil consists of a combination of clay and sand particles that result in:

  • A balance of large and small soil particles, with mixed pore spaces.
  • Good water-holding capacity.
  • Medium porosity – allowing water and nutrients to be absorbed while the excess can drain away.
  • Good aeration – allowing oxygen to penetrate the soil to sustain life.
  • A soil that can hold onto nutrients for use by plants and keep the soil pH balanced.

Sandy soil

While sandy soil is ideal for waterwise plants like succulents and Aloes, it is not so ideal for other types of plants. In sandy soil, water runs through too quickly, and you can’t keep your plants hydrated enough.

To fix this, add compost, such as our Malanseuns Compost. This way it will promote soil aggregation and improve water-holding capacity, while also adding nutrients. You can also use mulch, plant cover crops that can be used as green manures and add plenty of organic material into the soil which will eventually turn the soil around and give your plants the benefits of a healthier soil.

Clay soil

In heavy clay soil, water just sits there and never gets to the roots, or eventually gets to the roots but stays there and can potentially drown your plants and trees. There is also no free flow of oxygen and nutrients. This soil type is definitely not ideal!

To fix this, start building the soil the same way as with sandy soil. Add compost to the soil to make it easier to work. Over time, the compost will improve soil aggregation and aeration, and will enhance nutrient uptake.

Compost builds and contributes to soil structure. A healthy soil is the key to a healthy garden. The journey to garden wellness starts with soil that’s healthy!

If you are still not sure what type of soil you have, bring a bag of your soil to one of our Plantland branches, and we will gladly assist.

Whether you have sandy or clay soil, the good news is that either condition can be improved to make your soil more hospitable to the plants you want to grow there.

Looking for ready-mixed loam soil to plant your plants in and make them happy? We’ve got Malanseuns Briliant Top Soil and Malanseuns Potting Soil just for you, available to purchase online AND in-store!

For more information on soil, contact us