Loam Soil: What Is It and How Can My Lawn Benefit?
There are a few different soil varieties that exist for lawns. One of them is loam, which contains equal amounts of sand, clay, and silt particles. Good loam soil absorbs rain quickly and retains moisture and some organic matter, while allowing the excess to drain off. Most types of plants are able to thrive in loam soil, including lawn grass. The unique properties of loam enable plants to remain healthy, saving time and money on fertilizer and other lawn-fixing remedies.
Some of the benefits of having loam soil for your lawn include:
- Efficient drainage: Loam soil drains quickly, due to the sand particles in the soil. This allows water to flow through the soil, providing nutrients to all the roots. It's also helpful when downpours occur so that water drains fast without forming puddles or diluting the soil.
- Hardy nutrients: Loam soil holds onto nutrients and prevents them from washing out, all because of the clay particles and their retention quality.
- Structure for plants: Loam soil gives plants a sturdy structure by preventing them from becoming too heavy or compacted, which roots have difficulty growing in.
Do I Have Loam Soil?
Not sure whether you already have loam soil on your lawn? It may help to verify so that you know which type of plants to use and what other maintenance fixes are needed.
Some ways to determine whether you have loam soil:
- Do a soil test. Take a sample of your soil and have it tested to see if it contains sand, clay, and silt. Although there are no exact measurements that can be extracted, finding equal amounts for each is usually a sign that it's loam soil.
You can always do this yourself by digging up 1 cup of soil and putting it in a clear jar with water. Shake the jar and let the soil settle. Sand will settle at the bottom, silt in the middle, and clay on top. It can take up to two days for the clay to completely settle on top.
- Feel the texture. Scoop up a sample of the soil and simply feel it by rubbing it against your fingers. Add about ¼ cup of water to hold the soil together slightly while still letting it crumble. Loam soil feels smooth when it's dry, but slightly sticky when wet. Also, try squeezing it in a ball. If it changes shape but doesn't fall apart, then the soil is loamy.
How to Switch to Loam Soil
Changing the soil type of your lawn is no easy feat, and certainly not a fast one. It is a process that needs to take place over time through careful planning and scheduling.
Some of the things you can do in the meantime are:
- Aerate the soil. This allows water to drain and the roots to develop.
- If the soil is clay-heavy, rake in a layer of sand over the aerated holes to keep the soil from becoming too compact.
- If the soil is sandy, rake in a layer of compost over the aerated holes to improve moisture retention.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn so that they break down and improve the soil structure.
- Encourage earthworm breeding by limiting the amount of chemicals used.