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Names of Soil Types

cracked soil image by Ana de Sousa from

When determining the soil type in your yard, the name can vary depending on how specific the soil description needs to be. Soil can be organized into a large number of subtypes, but most soil is named by determining the dominant type of soil particles in the mixture. The most accurate method of determining soil type names is to have soil samples tested at an agricultural laboratory.


Soil that is mostly made up of sand is often called sand soil, but can also be called sandy soil. Composition-specific subtypes of sand include fine sand, coarse sand, medium sand, and pure sand. Sandy soil has good drainage, but does not hold nutrients well. Adding organic matter to sandy soil can help improve its ability to hold nutrients in the soil.

  • Soil that is mostly made up of sand is often called sand soil, but can also be called sandy soil.


Soil which is saturated with clay will be clumpy and sticky, much like molding clay. Too much clay in a soil mixture will cause compacted soil that keeps plants from receiving the soil aeration needed to thrive. To aerate soil which is saturated with clay, add sand and organic material regularly, at least once a year.


Silt are medium-sized particles. Larger than clay but smaller than sand, silt provides mineral nutrients in soil. Soil that is mostly silt can also be called silty soil.


Loam is considered to be the ideal soil for gardening. With a roughly even combination of sand, clay and silt, loamy soil usually has good drainage and aeration and can hold nutrients in the soil.

Coarse Soil

Coarse soil is a soil type that indicates larger-sized mineral material in the soil. According to the Berlin Digital Environmental Atlas, coarse soil includes soil minerals that are larger than than 2 mm in diameter. Rocks and gravel can be included under the coarse soil type.

Fine Soil

Sand, silt, and clay soil types can all be classified as fine soil. Fine soil includes soil with parts smaller than 2 mm in diameter.

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