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Simple Soil Test

illustration: jarApproximately 75% of the soil in NYC is from fill sources, and is not the original soil base of the NYC landscape. Fill generally contains a range of different soil textures, such as silt, sand, clay or loam. Therefore, testing your soil will allow you to know more about the different components of your soil.

To better identify the different components of your soil , take a handful or small shovelful of soil and place it in a glass jar with a lid. Add water to about one inch from the top and shake. Allow the jar of soil and water to sit for a day or two. The soil will settle into its components, with sand on the bottom, followed by silt, then clay, and then the organic matter.

Organic matter should ideally be 5% to 15% of the total soil base, therefore knowing the different components of your soil will be useful when determining the amount of organic matter that you need to replenish the landscape. Understanding the different components of your soil will also give you a general sense of the irrigation and nutrient needs of your soil. This is due to the fact that sandy soils, for example,  have high porosity and therefore have high irrigation needs. Clay soils tend to retain moisture better and, therefore, have low irrigation needs.

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