Soil and Soil Amendments Buying Guide


Planting a garden?  Of course you will want give your plants ,flowers , and herbs  the best care by using soil  and soil amendments .  The goal is to provide a better environment for roots, and using these components will improve the soil's physical properties, such as water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure.  The healthier the roots, the better the final product!  We are here to help you learn more about your soil so that you can create the ideal conditions for your garden. 


  • Soil Testing:  It's important to know your soil before you start planting.  There are many ways to test the soil to determine its type.  
    • pH:  The pH balance of your soil can be tested by purchasing a kit .  The solution turns yellow-orange for acid soil, green for neutral and dark green for alkaline.
      • Most plants prefer a pH balance of about 6.5 or 7, the point where nutrients are most easily available.
      • Different species of plants prefer different types of soil.  Be sure to research!
  • Soil Type:  The soil type is determined by its relative quantities of organic matte, rock, and mineral particles.
    • An easy way to determine your soil type is to pick up some damp soil and rub it between your fingers. 
      • Clay soil  will be sticky and easy to roll into a ball.
      • Sandy soil  will feel gritty and won't hold together at all.
      • Silty soil  will feel silky and won't hold together in a ball the way that clay will, but it can still be rolled.
      • Loamy soil  is brown and crumbly in texture, with a lot of organic matter present in it.  
      • Chalky soil  is light and doesn't hold water well.  You will often find chunks of chalk or flint in it, and it is always alkaline.
      • Peat soil  is almost black to look at and spongy to touch.  It will hold a lot of water.
  • Drainage: If your garden soil  floods or puddles on the surface, you need to start looking at solutions. Improving the soil structure by digging  can often solve drainage problems and adding organic matter  or sand  will also help. If, after improving the soil structure, it is still badly drained then you need to consider a land drainage scheme .
  • Fixing It:  The key to fixing up the consistency of the soil is to add a lot of organic matter .  One of the best ways of doing this is to dig spent mushroom compost  into the soil.  Another favourite of garden experts is a soil activator  called 6X  which can be added to tremendously improve your soil quality.  (Tip: Never add sand to clay soil, as it will make a concrete mixture rather than a soil solution!) 

Soil Amendments

Know that soil amendments  are components that are thoroughly mixed into the soil to improve its quality.  They are different from mulches, as mulch  is placed on top of the soil.  

  • Organic:  Organic soil amendments  are formed from something that was once alive.  Organic amendments increase the organic matter content of the soil and offers many benefits. Organic matter improves soil aeration, water infiltration, and both water and nutrient-holding capacity. Many organic amendments contain plant nutrients and act as organic fertilisers . Organic matter also is an important energy source for bacteria, fungi and earthworms that live in the soil. 
  • Longevity:  The amount that you choose to apply into your garden will strongly depend upon your goals. 
    • If you are trying to improve soil's physical properties quickly, then consider an amendment that decomposes rapidly, such as organic grass clippings or manures.
    • If you are looking for long-lasting improvement to your soil, choose an amendment that decomposes slowly; composts are your best bet.
    • If you want a quick improvement that lasts a long time, choose a combination of amendments.  A combination of wod chips and peat will take years to decompose.

Related Guides 

See some of our other guides to help you improve your garden's quality and appearance.

Outdoor and Gardens

Gardening Tips

Garden Tools


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