Ask a Soil Expert
Soil is generally evaluated on fertility and texture. Fertility is a combination of essential nutrients and a soil pH level that makes these nutrients available to the plants. Texture refers to the size of the soil particles and their cohesiveness.
Landscape Providers offers a consultation service to help you choose a soil from our range of high-quality topsoil mixes to grow blooming flowers and healthy, nutritious vegetables in your garden. We can also provide customised mixes to meet specialised requirements.
Soil is a major source of nutrients needed by plants for growth. The three main nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Other important nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Plants also need small quantities of iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron and molybdenum, known as trace elements because only traces are needed by the plant.
These essential elements assist with different plant functions for growth and reproduction. Each plant nutrient is needed in different amounts. Nutrient uptake by roots is dependent on both ability of the roots to absorb nutrients and nutrient concentration at the surface of the root.
Soil is made from three main components: clay, sand and silt. The relative amounts of clay, sand and silt are used to define soil texture which strongly influences plant nutrition due to its effect on the ability to retain both water and nutrients. The ideal soil (or loam) has equal amounts of all three, making a fertile soil that is free draining and easy to dig. However, each type of soil has its own advantages as well as disadvantages and different varieties of plants are suited to different soils.
Organic matter is an excellent supplier of nutrients to plants. Organic matter can also hold water which helps nutrients move from soil to plant roots.
The pH of a soil is a measure of the soil’s acidity. Soils are referred to as being alkaline (pH greater than 7), neutral (pH near 7), or acidic (pH less than 7). Most plants grow best in soil with a pH of between 6.5 and 6.8.