Types of Clay Soil

Understanding the types of clay soil enables gardeners to properly prepare and plant areas for optimum plant growth. Several types of clay soil have different properties, and by making adjustments and selecting the right types of plants, gardeners can take advantage of clay's moisture and nutritional components for successful gardening.


Red clay is often found in mountain and piedmont regions. A common myth about red clay soil is that it is impossible to use for gardening or landscaping. The composition of the red clay, however, enables it to hold nutrients and water extremely well. Till the area well and choose plants that thrive in moist soil, advises The Back Porch. Red clay is dense and often difficult for gardening without a great deal of preparation to ensure air flow to plant roots and to avoid water pockets in the soil.


Organic clay soil is rich in nutrients from decaying matter. Gardeners can convert traditional clay into organic by tilling in dry manure, leaf mold, saw dust and compost, according to the University of California. As organic matter decomposes, it changes the structure of the clay, making it more permeable and better suited for gardening and landscaping.

Silt Loam

Silt differs from organic and red due to the higher composition of silt loam in the soil. The silt clay loam soil is not as compact in structure as the other clay soils. Thus, the flow of air and water is higher with silt clay loam because the soil texture is not as fine and compact, according to the University of Arizona. Gardening with silt clay loam requires less soil preparation and adjustments than the other types of clay.


Clay loam has a higher ratio of clay than loam, according to the University of Arizona. The soil is compressed and dense. Clay loam soil has a tacky texture when wet. Working with this type of soil for gardening and landscaping has the same types of soil preparation as working with red clay.


Clay is not just brown or red in color. The type of decaying matter and plants affect the color of clay soil. The red color in clay soils is from iron oxide, according to The Back Porch. Clays with higher compositions of loam or organic matter will have less iron oxide and lack of red color.

Keywords: clay soil properties, types clay soil, clay soil

About this Author

Lisha Smith writes for several blogs and has freelanced for six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Greensboro in psychology. Smith has self-published several books. Her areas of experience include gardening, cooking, home improvement, pets and mental health.