How do I know what kind of soil I have?

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by Kevin Cowans, May 21, 2018.

  1. Kevin Cowans

    Kevin Cowans Gardener

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    Hello all

    I want to know what kind of soil I have in my garden so I know what plants etc. will do well, however, I do not know where to start.

    This whole Estate, built in 1988 is on what used to be Farm Land so I would expect it to be relatively good soil.

    Can anyone give me some help, please.

    Thanks in advance

    Kevin
     
  2. ricky101

    ricky101 Super Gardener

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    Hi,

    You would think so, but usually the builders strip off the top soil, build the roads and houses then return a thin layer of the top soil, often over clay infill.

    Suggest you first dig a few small holes, up to 2 ft deep and see how far down the top soil goes.You need to do that several points throughout the garden as near the house is often quiet shallow.

    You also need to get a garden soil ph test kit and again use it at several points around the garden.

    Then try an establish if its more a sandy or clay soil.
    Lots of examples on the web for doing that
    How to Test for Clay or Sandy Soil in your Lawn or Garden
     
  3. Notty1975

    Notty1975 Gardener

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    You could go online and get a soil test kit which will give you the ph of the soil and think you can send samples off which will give a complete breakdown npk and trace elements
     
  4. Verdun

    Verdun Passionate gardener

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    Yes, good advice there. The ph test is a simple, cheap and quick way to find out how acid or alkaline your soil is: this is important because it determines what you can or cannot grow :)
     
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    • NigelJ

      NigelJ Total Gardener

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      • Agree Agree x 1
      • Graham B

        Graham B Apprentice Gardener

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        Following Ricky's point, you can also expect the builders to have left the place full of hardcore. If the previous owners have been gardeners, hopefully they will already have dealt with that. If it all looks a bit sad though, you can expect to meet plenty of half-bricks during your digging.

        An easy way though is to ask at your nearest garden centre. Chances are they'll have a good idea of soil types around their local area.
         
      • Kevin Cowans

        Kevin Cowans Gardener

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        Hello

        We are actually the only owners there have ever been.

        We moved in as soon as the house was ready, February 1988.

        Over the years I have never found any bricks or rubble, just a discarded length of tubing.

        Thanks

        Kevin
         
      • Graham B

        Graham B Apprentice Gardener

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        Wow, you must have had the only garden-aware builders in Britain. :)
         
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        • Mike Allen

          Mike Allen Super Gardener

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          I have to agree with Verdun. YES a test to determine the pH value of the soil will give guidance to what plants to grow. Verdun is aware of my quotes on another gardening forum relating pH values etc. OK the pH scale sets a reading of 7.0 as being neutral. Below that indicates acidity likewise above 7.0 indicates a higher tolorance towards alkalininity. So for acid loving plants. Your test kit /meter indicates 6.5 Mathematically you compare 6.5 to 7.0 Why worry, it's only 0.5 difference. Actually it is a vast difference. That is proved by for example. I get great results growing XYZ the pH is just right. However LMN also an acid lover always fails.
          The author asked the question 'what kind of soil have I got' OK Many writers say. A good garden loam/soil. You should be able to grab a handful, give it a bit of a squeeze relax and the thsoil should remain in part bonded. Perhaps our friend was looking for, along the lines. Is my soil clay or whatever.
           
        • HarryS

          HarryS Eternally Optimistic Gardener

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        • Kevin Cowans

          Kevin Cowans Gardener

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          Hello all

          Thanks for the replies.

          I will purchase a PH Test Kit and see what it says.

          May I ask, are the little devices you push into the soil to test PH any good as I have seen them locally.

          Thanks in advance

          Kevin
           
        • JWK

          JWK Gardener

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          They don't work - better to use the litmus paper test kits.
           
        • Kevin Cowans

          Kevin Cowans Gardener

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          Hello @JWK

          Thanks for the reply.

          I will steer clear of the push in testers then, it was more for convenience than anything as I do not tend to leave the house much.

          I will search online and order from there.

          Thanks

          Kevin
           
          Last edited: May 23, 2018
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