The state of Texas is the second largest state in the United States. It has a very diverse landscape with swamps, desert, mountains, forests, grasslands, prairies, rolling hills and the coastline. The United States Department of Agriculture developed a system that classifies the various types of soil. In this system there are 12 different soil orders; Texas contains 7 of the 12 soil orders. Before starting a garden make sure to understand the specific soil requirements needed for the plants.
In the middle parts of the eastern half of the state, the western portion of the tip and much of the coastline of Texas is made up of the soil order vertisol--a clay consistency that can expand or shrink depending upon the climate and moisture conditions. This type of soil is usually found lying under grasslands and rolling hills. Vertisol makes excellent pasture lands and can be used in the cultivation of rice crops.
Ultisol soil is found in the northeastern portion of Texas. This class of soil is acidic with a red undertone due to the iron oxide that saturates Ultisol, and has a high rate of leaching because of the temperatures and moisture levels. Usually this type of soil is associated with very humid subtropical climates with forest characteristics. Ultisol has a coarse top, but is easy to till for planting and it retains water well for plant roots.
The Texas panhandle, most of the middle of the state and small sections in the southeastern part of Texas is classified as having mollisol soil. Mollisol is very fluffy, fertile rich soil that is used for agricultural crops. This type of soil is abundant in grasslands and has a very dark color due to the organic matter that augments it.
Inceptisol soil is only found in two small areas of Texas; in the middle of the southern tip and in the lower eastern portion of the Texas panhandle. This type of soil is found in moist places with a changeable climate. Inceptisols are very shallow young soil deposits that are weak and just starting the process of weathering.
This type of soil is located in a tiny spot along the corner of where Texas meets the southeastern boarder of New Mexico. Entisols are underdeveloped soils that will eventually evolve into a completely different soil type. This kind of soil is usually seen on steep slopes, flooded plains or sand dunes.
Aridisol soil covers the southwestern section of Texas. This soil type is conducive to very dry areas; like the desert. Aridisols are clay based with very light colors; this soil is not friendly to plant development. A salt build up will occur if using an irrigation system on plants, but this will enable the chance of growing plants in this kind of soil.
Alfisols are found in every part of Texas minus the coastline and the desert area of the southwest. This kind of soil is seen where forest vegetation is present. The subsoil is light in color and has a clay base saturated with enriching nutrients. Alfisols can erode quickly, but has a high potential for being productive fertile land.