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The "10 Step Method" of Determining Soil Type

1. Get a large mouth quart jar with a cover.

2. Fill the jar halfway with soil from an area where you want to determine soil type.

3. Wet the soil to the consistency of mud.

4. Tap the jar to settle the soil. You can also use the back of a spoon to settle the soil if tapping proves ineffective.

5. Mark the level of soil on the jar with a marking pen, whiteout, or whatever is handy.

6. Add water to the top of the jar, put the cover on, and vigorously shake the soil/water mix until all of the soil is all mixed up in the water.

7. Put the jar on a table and let the soil settle out for 1 minute.  At this time mark the level of all of the soil that has fallen out of the soil/water mixture.  The area between the bottom of the jar and this mark will be all of the sand in the soil.

8. Allow the soil to settle for 6 hours. At this time mark the level of all of the soil that has fallen out of the soil/water mixture since the last marking.  The area between your bottom mark and second mark is all of the loam.

9. You should now have 3 marks on your jar.  Although the clay will have not fallen out of solution at this time, you can determine how much clay is in the soil by measuring between the top two marks.

10. Look at the jar and determine which area takes up the most room.  The area that takes up the most room will be the predominant soil type of the area where the soil was taken.  If you have two areas that are very close, then your soil might be borderline.  Therefore, for best results use both soil types when customizing a shoreland restoration plan when trying to determine what plants will grow there.  The plants that fall into both groups will be the best to plant in that area.

Soil classification Clay Soil Loam soil sandy soil
percent clay 40-100% 7-27% 1-10%
percent silt 0-40% 28-50% 1-15%
percent sand 0-45% 23-52% 85-100%