Soil is a mixture of different things including rocks, minerals and organic matter, along with water and air. Soil is often described in different ways, such as heavy, light, sandy, clay, loamy, poor or good. In America, there are three major types of soil, each with its own distinct characteristics.
Clay soil is smooth and sticky when moist and will form a ball in your hand that does not easily fall apart. Clay soil is considered heavy and drains slowly. It has good moisture and nutrition retention, but it can also become waterlogged and cause root rot in plants. Farmers and gardeners do not like clay soil as it requires a lot of extra work. Clay soil is commonly found in urban developments and suburban subdivisions. It is also referred to as fine-grained soil.
Sandy soil feels loose and gritty. It won't form a ball when moist and falls apart when rubbed between your fingers. It is also known as granular soil. It is formed from rock such as limestone, quartz, granite and shale. It does not retain moisture well and is prone to over-draining. A very sandy soil will not grow plant life unless some type of organic matter is added to it. Sandy soils are found along rivers and streams and some coastal areas.
Loamy soil is considered the perfect soil type by farmers and gardeners. It is a combination of about 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt and 20 percent clay. Loamy soil is loose and porous and holds water very well. It is rich in nutrients. Loamy soils are heavier than sandy soils and tend to drain well. It is common in the valleys and flood plains that surround rivers and streams.