The squeeze test: how to test your soil type
Different topsoils have different qualities, benefits, and disadvantages. The squeeze test helps you find out which soil type is in your garden. It’s easy – just grab a handful of soil and try to press it into a ball!
If the soil feels sticky and clumps easily, it’s clay. Clay soil retains moisture well and holds vital nutrients – but can become waterlogged easily. This soil might be light grey or brown in colour.
If the soil won’t form a shape but crumbles and falls apart, it’s sand-based. Unlike clay, sandy soil rarely gets waterlogged – but that means it struggles to retain moisture and any vital nutrients. The soil is usually a lighter colour with visible grains of sand.
If the soil clumps easily but begins to crumble when you apply more pressure, it’s loam. This is a mixture of clay, silt, and sand – so it retains important nutrients and moisture, but still drains well and contains plenty of air pockets. It means loam soil can be best for planting.
It’s possible to amend and improve the soil as needed. But some plants suit certain soil types more than others – and they’ll grow best in that soil type. Our recommendation? Choose your plantings according to the soil type in your garden. And, where possible, aerate your soil to keep is as healthy as it can be.