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A few days after a good soaking rain, take a small amount of soil and roll it into a ball in your hand. What happens?
1. Refuses to form a ball - high sand content
2. Forms a ball, but when squeezed in the hand it crumbles and won't form a sausage or ribbon - a good mix of sand and clay (lucky you!)
3. Forms a ball and can be formed into a sausage shape - mostly clay
Gather several small samples of soil from your garden or lawn. Mix together well, and place a cup of the combined samples in a quart glass jar (canning jar works great); fill with water and a dash of NON-SUDSING dishwasher detergent.
Shake until the soil is well-mixed, about 10 seconds. Let the jar stand for 24 hours.
The soil will settle into layers and you can visually estimate the proportion of sand (bottom layer) to silt (second layer) to clay (the layer on top)
Dig a hole about 6" wide and 12" deep (a post hole digger can make a perfect hole for this test.) Fill the hole with water and let it drain. As soon as it has drained, fill the hole again and start timing it to see how long it takes to drain a second time.
If it takes more than six hours, you may have a serious drainage problem.
Similar to the percolation test, but used to identify problematic sandy soils (whereas the perc test helps determine a soil with too much clay or other drainage problems.)
Start by thoroughly watering a small area of your garden bed or lawn. Forty-eight hours later, dig a small 6" deep hole in the area you watered. If the soil is already dry at the bottom of the hole, your soil may drain too fast and doesn't retain enough water for good plant growth.
The "worm test"
Earthworms are a sign of good biological activity in your lawn - the more the better.
When the soil is at least 55° Fahrenheit and has a moisture content of at least 25%, choose a spot that has not been recently tilled or otherwise cultivated. Dig a hole one foot wide and one foot deep, placing the excavated soil on a tarp or newspapers. Sift the excavated soil with your hands or a coarse sieve over the hole, and count the earthworms.