How to Do a Soil Texture Test

Horticulturist Nancy Rose’s article in the November/December issue of Northern Gardener talks about the importance of knowing your soil for more garden success. Here are her instructions for testing the texture of your soil.

How to Test Soil Texture

While not as precise as a lab test, this is a quick way to determine if your soil has a coarse, medium, or fine texture.

1. Gather a handful of moistened soil and press it into a ball.

2. Rub a bit of soil gently between your thumb and forefinger.

3. Knead the soil a bit and hold the ball between your thumb and forefinger. Try to extrude a ribbon of the soil by pressing it over your forefinger with your thumb (this takes a little practice).

Results: If the soil feels gritty and does not form a ribbon, it is coarse. If the soil feels smooth or only slightly gritty and forms no ribbon or a short ribbon before breaking, it has a medium texture. If it feels very smooth and forms a long, pliable ribbon, it has a fine texture.

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