What is garden loam soil?
Working with loam soil – Loam soil is a mixture of sand, silt and clay soils and is by far and away the most desirable soil types to have in your garden.
It will feel soft and crumbly and, depending on the amount of organic matter, is usually quite dark in colour.
There are several types of loam such as sandy loam or clay loam depending on the proportions of other soil types making them up.
Loam itself generally has a 40-40-20 combination of sand, silt and clay respectively, but any soil in which none of those three varieties dominates could be considered loam.
How to make sandy loam soil?
Loam is soil made with a balance of sand, silt, and clay soil. The perfect mix of loam soil should consist of equal parts of all three soil types and the combination of soil types creates the perfect soil texture for plant growth.
The sand particles provide great aeration, allowing oxygen to reach plant roots. Sand, unfortunately, isn’t the best at absorbing moisture. The clay particles are known to be somewhat impermeable due to how easily their small clay particles compact together. This aspect of the mixture makes up for its low amount of aeration with a high amount of nutrients. Finally, the silt particles absorb moisture better than sand and help the sand and clay mix together effectively.
Advantages of loam soil – what is loam soil good for?
There are many benefits to gardening with loam soil relative to other varieties.
- It contains many more nutrients than sandy soil,
- drains faster than silt or clay but slower than sand – that is, fast enough not to become waterlogged but sufficiently slowly for plants to access the moisture –
- and is far easier to work with than clay being both lighter and less prone to compaction.
In just about every respect, loam is the perfect soil to have in your garden.
Disadvantages of loam soil
The disadvantages of loam are very few and perhaps limited to the single issue of it is much harder to choose what to grow in it, given the amount of choice one with loam soil has.
Plants for loam soil
As you’ve probably guessed, you can grow just about anything you like in loam soil, and are constrained only by what the climate will allow. Loam soil is so easy to work with that it makes growing things seem like childs-play. Plants that typically do well in loam soil include:-
- Fruit trees
- Soft fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants
- Vegetables such as peas, beans, beetroot, onions and salad crops
- Annual bedding plants
- Perennial flowering plants
- Bee-friendly plants
If you’re building raised beds so that you can grow your own food, loam soil should be your first choice for filling the beds. If you are laying a lawn from turf and want the best possible long-term results, adding a 15cm layer loam soil on top of your garden soil will help enormously. The only time I would advise against using loam soil is if you are planning to lay Meadowmat Wildflower Turf or establish wild flowers from seed. Wild flowers are not too keen on rich soils and do much better in a low-nutrient soil.
How to improve loam soil
Though loam garden soil requires no particular procedures to improve its quality, adding organic matter to the soil, or working it with a spade or fork to improve aeration and prevent compaction can only do it good.
Where to buy loam soil UK
Loam soil is available from garden centres and landscape suppliers throughout the UK. It’s soil either by the lorry load (also known as bulk soil), in builders bags (containing just less than 1 cubic metre) or in smaller, 15Kg bags.
You can order loam soil online and have it delivered to you in builders bags. This is by far the most convenient option – the bag keeps the mess in one place!