The top 10 Soils for Perennial Gardening

Nothing improves the curb appeal of your home than well-mowed lawns and gardens that are well cared for. Despite the fact that everyone desires that their landscaping and gardening skills will make their home the envy of the neighbourhood, there is a lack of gardening information which most people have, and this leads to lack of preparation for the seasons and eventually crop failure.

Unless you are planning to venture into hydroponics, then your gardening journey starts with getting the right soil type. Here are the top ten soil types to look for if you want excellent results in perennial gardening.

The ten major soil types

Land in the UK has six major soil types. These are: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky, and loamy. In addition to these six major soil types, there are four other classifications that local soils fall under and these are: gley soils, podzols, brown earths, organic soils.

It is possible to carry out agriculture successfully on these soil types depending on the preparations which you make for the same. Here is a breakdown for each of the soils and what crop types do excellently in each.

Clay soils

The common characteristics of clay soils is the lumpy and sticky feeling when wet. Another common characteristic of the soil is that it is heavy to cultivate and it warms slowly to the spring. One of the most wonderful things about the clay soils is that if you are able to drain off its water properly, it is the soil type which holds maximum amount of nutrients.

The first step in preparing clay soil for gardening is making it granular, which can be achieved by mixing in large amounts of organic matter. Clay soil should be watered to avoid cracking in the summer. In the winter, care should be taken because it is water retentive and this could freeze up, ruining the crops.

The ideal time to plant on clay soils is autumn. Cherry, pears, and maple thrive in this soil, as does edible herbs such as yarrow and red valerian.

Sandy soils

This soil type drains water freely and has a gritty feeling. Its advantage is that it warms up really fast in the spring. On the other hand, the soil loses a lot of its nutrients through leaching and if it is not properly prepared for cultivation.

To prepare sandy soil, you need to go beyond simple addition of organic material and fertilizers as these will suffer leaching. There are additives such as biochar which improve the structure of the soil and make cultivation on it simpler.

Because of their inability to retain water, sandy soils become really dry in the summer and therefore need a lot of watering to keep hydrated. Vegetables are the best crops to plant on sandy soils regardless of the season. Turnips, parsnips, and herbs like thyme and juniper also do well in sandy soil.

Silty soils

Silty soils usually have a smooth and soapy feel. They are heavier than sand but lighter than clay soils. The soil structure is easy to compact, which makes it ideal for agriculture regardless of the season.

One of the main problems that you may experience with the soil is its high salinity; however, this is a problem which can be quickly rectified. The best thing about the soils is that they are easy to manage throughout the seasons and you can cultivate virtually everything on them.

Vegetables flourish well in silty soils. Additionally, berries including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries among other citrus fruits do really well in these soils.

Peaty soils

These soils are also quite common in the UK. Their distinguishing characteristics include their higher than normal composition of organic matter when compared to other soils.

The soils are dark in color, and unfortunately, they are acidic with fewer nutrients than regular soils. They also tend to retain water a lot, although they warm up really fast in the springs. When fertilizers are added, and the acidity neutralized, they can be great for cultivation all year round. Legumes, root crops, and cabbage do extremely well in these soils.

Chalky soils

Chalky soil is hard to deal with because it is normally stony. It has an alkaline pH and most of the times lie on top of limestone or chalk. Their location and composition also mean that minerals such as manganese and iron may not reach the plants, which leads to leaf yellowing.

The first step in preparing this soil is breaking the rocks down to a manageable texture. Some of the crops which will do well if you have chalky soils include cabbage, beet, and sweetcorn. If you want to have a selection of wildflowers in your garden, chalky soils really encourage their growth.

Fertilisers will balance the pH and eliminate the alkalinity which sometimes stunts growth.

Loamy soils

Everyone in the country wishes that they had this soil type. The characteristics of the soil include good drainage, excellent texture, full of nutrients, retains the needed amount of moisture, and is really easy to cultivate throughout the seasons.

There are no crop limitations when you have this soil. You are allowed to grow a selection of crops including wheat, sugarcane, and all types of vegetables.

The only periodic improvements that you will need to make to this soil is adding fertilisers when the nutrient levels go down and watering when the summer heat dries it out. Loam is generally the ideal that all improvements of the other soils aim for.

Gley soils

Britain has a lot of regions which have these soils. The common characteristic is a mottled appearance in the B horizon. The soils are usually waterlogged and lack enough oxygen. To work with this soil, the first step would be to drain the water.

This will come in handy in the winter and spring when the weather is wet. Vegetables and tubers can do well in these soils if they are drained and properly enriched.


This is a group of soils that are strange due to the fact that the upper layers have been leached off most of their nutrients, and most of it has settled down the lower layers. These soils tend to be acidic and poor in plant nutrition.

To make cultivation possible in these soils, you have to bring back the leached nutrients, and then balance out the acidity. When treated, they tend to do well throughout the year. Garden flowers do well in these soils.

Brown earths

Some of the main characteristics of the soil are their rich brown color and their top layer full of organic material and minerals. The parent material of the soil is also usually unaltered. The soils have a deep nature and free drainage, which makes farming easy with them.

A wide variety of crops from trees, fruits, vegetables, and tubers can grow in these soils. The best thing about the soils is that they are easy to manage throughout the seasons.

Organic Soils

These are soils which have been amended either through natural processes or as a result of human action. The soils can be derived from any of the other soil types mentioned above but altered for crop production. Because of their moisture and nutrient content, these soils are ideal for a variety of agricultural purposes. They are easy to manage throughout the year. Vegetables and tubers do really well in these soils.

Those are some of the best soil types for perennial farming in the country. It is important to note that the effectiveness of a soil depends on how it is handled and most importantly, the amendment process which it undergoes before farming and throughout the season.

It is also important to note that not all crops will do well in all soil types. It is great to find out which crops suit the soil type that you have to avoid crop failure.

If you’re looking for ideas for how to make your house a home we recommend checking out our blog! We have a broad range of subjects for all parts of your home, and we know you’ll find something helpful for you and your home.

Maire Shield

Maire Shield worked for 15 years as an interior design consultant in Albuquerque and is now retired after selling her business. She now shares her experience and knowledge through blogging to help other people create a beautiful home for themselves.

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