DIY Backyard Soil test

When we plant flowers or shrubs in our yards to make them more beautiful we spend lots of time educating ourselves on all the different kinds of plants there are mostly so we understand how to properly care for them after they’re planted.  When is the last time you made an effort to educate yourself on the soil in your yard? It’s easy to forget the importance of the soil we have our plants growing in. Soil is incredibly important to a plants growing process.

Unless you’re an expert it’s difficult to determine what kind of soil you have. You want a good texture, and when talking about soil, texture refers to the size of the particles in your soil. The way your soil absorbs water depends on what the soil is made up of , which is most cases is clay, silt, sand or any combination of the three.  Clay is made up of very small particles, sand has much larger particles, and silt falls somewhere in between.

Our Office Manager, Trish decided to try this at home soil test so she could see what kind of soil her backyard has to offer. This is a very simple test anyone can do from home.


What you’ll need…

-A quart sized mason jar with a tight fitting lid.

-1/4 qt. of Water

-1 Teaspoon of Dawn Dish Soap


The soil test…

To begin, you want to dig into your soil about 8 inches. Then gather enough to fill the mason jar about half way.



Next, fill the jar with water until its about 3/4th of the way full and add a teaspoon of dish soap. Trish used Dawn, the blue color is recommended.

Twist the lid securely onto the jar and begin shaking, you’ll want to shake it good for about 3 minutes.







Now, you wait. Set the jar aside for at least 24 hours before reading your results.





The results are in…

Trish has Silt Soil

Reading your results will be easy with this guide. All of the heavier material will sink to the bottom and the lighter materials will be at the top. There are 5 main types of soil, your results will more than likely fall into one of these categories. If they’re not exact, go with the one that has the most similarities to your jar.


  • If you’re lucky, you will have the most desirable soil known as Loam. This soil contains about 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. Your mason jar will have a clear water with layered sediment on the bottom and fine particles on the top. This kind of soil is ideal for plants, and won’t require any compost.


  • If you have a lot of particles floating on the surface with some sediment on the bottom and the water is cloudy but not murky your soil is considered to be peat like. This soil isn’t terrible, but you may need some help along the way to ensure healthy plant growth.


  • A less desirable outcome is Chalky soil. If your mason jar has a layer of white gritty particles on the bottom and the water is pale gray and murky than your soil is probably Chalky. This soil is not nutritional to plants, so unless you add compost it will be very difficult to grow plants.


  • Clay soil will leave you with cloudy water and a thin layer of particles at the bottom. Clay particles take much longer to settle which is why the water in your jar remains cloudy. Adding compost to clay soil will help get your plants the nutrients they will require.


  • If you have a silt soil, the results will be similar to clay soil but there will be many more particles left along the bottom. This soil will drain better than a clay soil, so your plants will be getting more nutrients, however using some compost is recommended.



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