What Makes a Good Garden Soil?

When planning to set up a garden in your front yard or backyard, we tend to focus on picking which pants, trees or shrubs to plant. We imagine how the greenery and those blooming flowers will make our yard pleasing to the eyes. However, in order to have happy, healthy plants, the garden soil must be the correct texture and contain full nutrients.

Before starting a new garden, know the quality of soil in your yard, including the pH level, which fertiliser the soil will require, as well as what additives and organic matter will be effective to help you achieve a robust, vibrant garden.


Plants need three major nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen plays a major role in making leaves healthy and growing stems. Phosphorus is responsible for root growth. This nutrient is very vital in flowering bulbs and root crops. Potassium is used for overall plant health. Plants grow and develop stronger immune systems with potassium. Aside from the three major nutrients, plants need a number of trace elements to be healthy. These include calcium, magnesium, zinc, molybdenum and more.

pH Level

Soil acidity or alkalinity is measured by pH level. Soil pH is important because nutrients in the soil can only be used by plants if the soil pH is within a certain range. Various plants require different pH levels. The only method to know the pH level of your soil is to have it tested. Changing soil pH will take a while and your soil will tend to return to its old pH level over time, requiring frequent treatment.


Compared to soil fertility, it is more complicated to alter soil texture. Texture means the size of the soil particles. Sandy soils have very big particles, whereas clay has small particles. A simple test to determine soil texture is by making a ball of moist garden soil. Sandy soil breaks apart when you tap it. The soil is clay if you can press it between your thumb and finger and fashion a ribbon.

An ideal garden soil is what is called a sandy loam. It is light and permits air and water to move freely. The soil should also have some tilth, which has a fine, breadcrumb-like texture. This texture is created by adding sufficient organic matter to the soil.

Organic Matter

Organic matter refers to decaying plant or animal matter. Soil contains some organic matter, but it is not adequate to meet a plant’s needs. Your soil can achieve tilth by adding decaying organic matter, or humus. Organic matter helps sandy soil keep water and makes clay soil looser to allow for water, air and root movement. The primarily role of organic matter is that it promotes the growth of beneficial microbes and supplies some nutritional benefits.


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Bacchus Marsh Redgum & Garden Centre

182 Gisborne Rd.
Bacchus Marsh, Vic 3340

(03) 5367 1666

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