There are a few different types of soil that are normally found in yards, sandy and clay are just two different examples of this. Each type of soil has different qualities that will affect the type of plants that will grow in it. Unfortunately, the plants that will grow are not always the plants that you desire.
Understanding the types of soil, and the qualities of each type will help you achieve a blend that will work well. The blends that you can achieve will be beneficial to helping you achieve your lawn or gardening goals.
Soil that is rich in minerals and drains well is ideal. Unfortunately, the type of soil found in most first time gardens usually leaves much to be desired.
Top soil is a specific type of soil that is not rich enough in nutrients to offset poor quality soil such as clay. The most effective use of top soil is to limit it to the top 2 inches. Top soil is usually formulated to resist over-compressing, this allows plants to take hold initially, but again, doesn’t supply the much needed nutrients or the strong hold that the roots require in order to support the plant. For this reason, top soil is not really recommended for blending.
Clay soil compresses very well. Depending on the type of clay and the concentration, it may compress too well. Clay that compresses too tightly hardens almost like stone and prevents most things from growing. Some types of clay become sticky when it gets wet. Either type of clay prevents water and air from getting to the plant roots.
Black, nutrient-rich soil is usually found naturally in densely wooded areas. While this soil is ideal for growing, the surroundings make it difficult to get the needed sunlight.
How to correct these issues?
By blending the soil types, you can get a soil that is rich enough to support most types of plants. If you cannot get a supply of rich, fertile soil (aka. mushroom soil in my area) try composting to create your own source.
If you are starting with a clay base, you will need to blend sand into the mixture. Blend the fertile soil and sand with the clay to produce an ideal soil. The sand will work with the fertile soil to keep the clay from binding too tightly.
Till the soil together for the entire depth of the tines. This will create a nice base for any roots.
Now, I have only added fertile soil after the initial blend, but depending on the amount of clay in the soil, you may prefer to add sand the second year as well. It has been my experience that it will still take about three (3) years to get a mixture that is ideal.
While the first two (2) years will produce nice plants, by the third year the plants come alive! Unfortunately, the fertile soil (aka. mushroom soil) can only be blended in so much at a time without burning out the plants. This is most likely the reason that it takes until the third year to get the soil mixture right.
This has worked this same way each time that I have started over.
After you see your plants really thriving, you should not need to add anything more to your mixture. Your soil will be easy to work up in the Spring and the plants will continue to thrive.
Improving your soil is an art that takes time to perfect. With a little knowledge and a lot of work, you can accomplish the right blend.