DIY Soil Tests

Knowing your soil texture--the percentage of clay, sand, and silt in your soil--can help you become a better gardener! That's because soil texture play a big role in how quickly water moves through the soil, and how long it's available to plants to absorb. As a result, you can figure out how often to water and how often you may need to add nutrients to your soil.

Fortunately, you can determine soil texture in your yard with two simple DIY tests!  Here's how:

The Ribbon Test

Video by Kansas State Research and Extension.

The ribbon test is the absolute easiest way to examine soil texture.  You don't anything other than a soil sample, some water, and your hands! You'll be observing how the soil holds together and how it feels, and based on this you can get an idea if there's more clay or more sand in its composition! Watch the video to see how it works and get some great tips from the Kansas State extension.

The Mason Jar Test

Video by Midwest Gardener

The mason jar test is a step up from the ribbon test, and you'll need a few additional tools: a quart mason jar, a trowel or shovel, water, detergent, a ruler, and, of course, your soil sample!  Midwest Gardener walks you through the steps, and has some great tips on collecting a good sample and figuring out your results. If you visit YouTube and view the notes under the video, you'll find additional very helpful information. 

Of course, neither of these tests are fool proof, so if you want to be really REALLY sure about your soil structure, you'll need to send a sample to a testing lab.  But if you just want a fun project to try, or a general idea of what your soil is like, give these tests a try!

Decided to try one of these DIY tests in your own garden? Share your results in the comments!

Linda KelsoComment