Planning Your Landscaping? 2 Simple Ways to Determine the Type of Soil You Have

Do you live an area that makes it hard to grow grass? Find out how to use nothing more than hardscape materials to finish your property.

Planning Your Landscaping? 2 Simple Ways to Determine the Type of Soil You Have

22 September 2015
 Categories: , Blog

You've just bought a new home and you're ready to begin designing the landscaping. Before you start planning, you should find out what type of soil you're dealing with. One neighbor says you have clay soil and the other neighbor says you have sandy loam soil. How do you decide which it is? You could have it analyzed by a soil expert. Or, you could do a few simple tests of your own to find out what type of soil you have.

Press It between Your Fingers

If you're going to be planting gardens in your yard, you need to make sure that the soil is workable—meaning it's easy to cultivate with a hand-held shovel. Sandy soil is easy to work with, while clay may be a bit tougher—especially once it dries out. This simple test will help you find out how much sand you have in your soil.

Use a garden hose to get your soil nice and wet, then grab a handful of dirt and pinch some of it between two fingers. Now, move the soil around between your fingers. Does the soil feel rough like sand? If it does, you have a good sand content in your soil. Does the soil slip through your fingers? If it does, your soil has more of a clay content.

Drench It in Water

Most soil is composed of either silt, clay, or sand. It can be difficult to tell which is which just by looking at the soil. Here is one test that will help you determine how much of each is in your soil.

Supplies You'll Need

  • One clean mason jar with lid
  • Water
  • Liquid dish detergent—any brand
  • One cup of soil from your yard.


  1. Get rid of all the weeds, grass, and rocks in the soil you've collected.
  2. Set the soil out in the sun for about 30 minutes to allow it to dry thoroughly.
  3. Place the dry soil into the mason jar, filling it about halfway.
  4. Fill the rest of the mason jar with water (but leave a little room for air) and add 1 teaspoon of dish soap.
  5. Put the lid on your mason jar and shake well for about 2 minutes.
  6. Set the mason jar down and watch the soil settle to the bottom of the jar.
  7. The sand will settle first.
  8. The silt will settle second.
  9. The clay will settle last.

When planning your landscaping, it's important to know what type of soil you have. This is particularly true if you plan on having lush lawns or flower gardens. Knowing the type of soil you have will ensure that you include plants that will thrive in that type of soil.The easy-to-follow soil tests provided above will help you plan your new landscaping. For more tips and information, contact a service like Weiler's Lawn & Landscape.

About Me
hardscaping areas that won't grow grass easily

I live in an area that is very difficult to grow grass. If I was to water my lawn a couple of times each day, the grass may grow, but that would cost me a small fortune in water bills and waste a lot of water that could be used for more efficient purposes. Instead of fighting the grass to grow, I decided to embrace the dryness of the area and complete the landscape design using mostly hardscape materials. I used rocks of all sizes coupled with wood to create a yard that I love to spend time in and am very proud of. Find out how to use nothing more than hardscape materials to finish your property.