A healthy, flourishing garden begins with healthy soil. By learning as much as you can about your soil, you will be better able to match plants to your conditions. Missouri Botantical Gardens, University of Missouri Extension Service and even OK Hatchery in Kirkwood can test your soil. The test will reveal the composition of your soil (whether it’s predominantly clay, loam or sand), the nutrient levels in your soil, and the soil’s pH (its acidity or alkalinity).

You can also do a home test to determine whether your soil is clay, loam or sand. Put a handful of garden soil in a litre jar, fill it with water, shake, and then leave it to settle for a day. Sand will settle to the bottom, silt will be the next layer, with clay on top. (Organic matter will float on the water’s surface.) Compare the percentage of each layer to determine whether you’ve got loam (20% clay, 40% silt, 40% sand), clay (60% clay, 30% silt, 10% sand), or sand (5% clay, 10% silt, 85% sand).

A laboratory soil test will tell you whether your soil’s pH is acidic, neutral or alkaline--which will help you determine what plants will do best in your conditions.

To determine the drainage capacity of your soil, dig a hole 1 foot deep and 1 foot wide. Fill it with water, let it drain completely, then fill again until the soil is saturated. Depending on how long it takes for this last batch to drain, you’ve either got adequate drainage (less than 2 hours), or poor drainage (more than 2 hours).

Whatever your soil type, pH, drainage and nutrient levels, you can improve the health of your soil by adding compost. Dig in lots of compost when first preparing your garden bed for planting. In already established gardens, add a 3-inch layer of compost around your plants in spring, summer or fall.

Additional information about improving your soil can be found at our website.

Great gardens ONLY happen when an improved soil foundation has been installed. At Greenscape Gardens we are constantly informing the customer to spend additional monies on improving the soil and less on the plant material. We are in the business to sell plants but plants only grow and prosper when they are given the proper incentives to grow........GOOD SOIL.