Characteristics of Clay Soil

Part of growing a successful garden is soil management. To properly manage your soil, you must be familiar with the type of soil in your garden and the properties of that soil. Unfortunately, clay is the least desirable type of soil for successful gardens and the most difficult to improve through organic amendments.

Tiny Particles

The particles that make up clay soil are so tiny they can only be seen individually under a microscope. They stick together when wet and feel smooth and slippery when rubbed between your fingers.

Heavy Dense Structure

The tiny particles that make up clay soil bond together, creating a heavy, dense structure that makes it difficult for plant roots to penetrate. It takes a long time to warm up and dry out in spring or after rainstorms. Because of its dense heaviness, some plants will not grow well in clay soil.

Poor Drainage

The dense structure of clay soil causes water to drain away slowly. The roots of plants growing in clay soil can sometimes sit in water for several hours to several days, depending on the density of the soil and the amount of rain received. Clay soil also has a tendency to form a hard, impenetrable crust on its surface if it dries out completely, such as during an extreme drought.

Keywords: clay soil characteristics, clay soil structure, clay soil properties

About this Author

Sharon Sweeny has a college degree in general studies and worked as an administrative and legal assistant for 20 years before becoming a freelance writer in 2008. She specializes in writing about home improvement, self-sufficient lifestyles and gardening.