How to Test Clay Soil

Determine whether or not your garden has clay soil with these two simple steps. 

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Step 1: Test Soil

Soil High in Clay will Mold Easily in Hands

Soil High in Clay will Mold Easily in Hands

Squeeze the soil in the palm of hand. If it forms a sausage shape and stays together when opening hand it is clay based soil.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

To check if you have clay soil, and thus soil that may become waterlogged in winter and be more difficult to dig than other soil types, remove small samples of soil from different spots around the garden from just below the soil surface. Clay soil will feel quite  sticky and heavy when shaped in the hand. Try to mold the soil in your hands—the particles of clay soil will hold together well and change shape when pressed.

Step 2: Roll Soil

Soil Heavy with Clay will Roll into Cylinder

Soil Heavy with Clay will Roll into Cylinder

Roll soil into a cylinder and if it feels reasonably smooth or even silky it has a clay base.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Heavy clay can even be rolled into a thin cylinder; it will often appear smooth and shiny.