Soil is the base in which all plants grow naturally; without it, life would not continue. The components of the soil support the life of trees, shrubs, fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Soil type varies by geographical location. Both natural forces and humans alter soil components, through rain, drought, wind, chemicals, farming and pollution.
Clay soil contains the smallest of particles, which can create the heaviest of soils. While clay holds the most nutrients, its density does not allow enough moisture or air to travel through. Clay soils must be amended with organic materials and sand in order to improve air and water flow that is conducive to healthy plant life.
Sand is the largest particle found in sandy soils, and creates the lightest type of soil. It does not have the ability to retain moisture or nutrients that will sustain plant life. Sandy soils need to be amended, with items such as compost and rock phosphate, to create a heavier base that will absorb and retain the necessary elements for plant growth.
Silt is the happy medium between sand and clay. With medium-sized particles, silty soil retains more nutrients than sand and provides a higher level of drainage than clay soils.
Loamy soil is the perfect combination of clay, sand and silt. It retains vital nutrients and moisture, but also has an optimal level of drainage. It needs virtually no amendment and is well-suited for gardening.