8 Common Soil Problems (And How to Fix Them)

It is a well-known fact that most plants grow better in soil that contains fertilizer, compost, and drainage. However, soil is an interesting subject with many terms and rules that many break without knowing. 

The this article will outline the eight most common problems and how to fix them. As always, it’s important to consult your local garden store or university on any questions about what specific plants need for the best growth.

Soil is one of those subjects which can be very difficult to figure out on your own when you are first starting out as a prepper. It is important to check with local farmers or other garden store owners to determine what plants are best suited for growing in your region.

sandy soil in the garden

The first common problem that many people encounter is sandy soil. Soils that are too sandy do not retain much moisture and they can have a tendency to be very loose as well. The lighter soils drain too quickly, making them unsuitable for large plants with extensive root systems. 

That being said, there are many different types of plants that prefer this type of soil such as cactus, ferns, and succulents. Some trees also thrive in sandy soil due to their ability to send out long roots in search of water.

Sandy soil can be amended by adding organic matter such as compost or manure to increase its moisture-retention capabilities. You can also add drainage to sandy soil by adding gravel or rocks to improve its ability to drain excess water.

2. Soil Has High Clay Content

The next problem that people run into is soils that have a high clay content. Many people assume that soil with a high clay content is ideal for growing due to the fact that it retains large amounts of moisture. This is true for most plants, but there are some drawbacks to having such rich and dense soil. 

Clay soil has the tendency to be less loose than sandy soils and in some cases, it can be impossible to work with after it has been cultivated for a period of time. Clay can also be harder to amend than sandy soil.

There are ways that you can work with clay soil without having to completely change it. Try to keep the soil as loose as possible by adding compost and water when the plant is actively growing. You can also try a heavy dose of mulch which will help break some of the clay down over time.

3. Soil Has Too Much Alkaline or Acid

The third common problem that many gardeners run into is soil that is either too alkaline or acidic for their plants to survive in it. Most plants do not like extreme changes in pH, but with proper care, they will survive in the pH they have been assigned. If the soil pH is too high or too low, you may have to amend it at a rate much greater than normal.

The pH can be measured using special tools such as a soil testing kit or pH tester. If your soil is too high in pH, you can add lime to make it more acidic. If the pH is too low, then you will need to add sulfuric acid (which can be obtained from an auto parts store) or muriatic acid (which can be obtained from a Home Depot). Be careful when using these acids as they can burn your skin and eyes if handled improperly.

4. Soil is Too Wet

The fourth common problem that people tend to run into is soil that has too much moisture in it. The amount of water that is present in the soil can vary greatly depending on what type of plant you are growing. 

Plants such as cacti and succulents like to have sandy and dry soil, whereas plants such as ferns and orchids require more moist soil. By knowing what type of plant you are growing it will be easier to determine how much water you should be adding to your plants per week or per month.

You can check how much moisture is in your soil by digging down about three inches deep into the ground with a trowel. If the top of the soil is moist, you will need to water your plants more frequently.

5. Soil Has Poor Drainage

The fifth common problem that people deal with is poor soil drainage. Poor drainage can occur in any type of soil but it is mainly caused by excessive clay or hard-packed soils. 

One of the best ways to add better drainage to your garden is by adding stones, gravel, or coarse sand. You should avoid adding rocks when you are first starting since they can be difficult to work with if you don’t know what you are doing.

If you don’t want to add drainage to your garden then you can simply till the soil. Many people take this approach without ever adding new dirt, but this method is a good way to improve drainage while your other methods are being created or added to.

6. Soil Has Poor Aeration

The sixth common problem that many people tend to run into is poor soil aeration. This problem occurs when the soil you have chosen does not have enough oxygen in it for the plants that you are growing. 

Some soils tend to be denser than others and they do not have as much oxygen in them as they should. This can be fixed by adding forage to the soil mix or by adding some kind of organic matter such as compost or manure.

If you think that your soil is too dense for the plants you are growing because of poor aeration, you can add chipped wood to improve its aeration. This will allow oxygen into the soil and it will also allow smaller plants to grow well in the ground.

7. Soil is Too Acidic

The eighth problem that people tend to run into is soil that has a high acidity content. Most plants prefer a soil that is slightly acidic because the pH of their leaves can be adjusted by the soil’s acidity. 

If you are growing plants in an area where your soil has a high acidity, then you will need to add some organic material to help balance this out. This will allow the pH of your garden to change over time instead of being too acidic all at once.

8. Soil is Too Rocky

The tenth common problem that people tend to run into is soil that has too much rock or gravel in it for what they are trying to grow. Most plants do not like rocks at all since they may create drainage problems or even make root growth difficult. The only solution is to remove the rocks from your landscape altogether.

How to Pick the Perfect Soil for Your Garden

If you have already checked the above soil problems and none of them seems to be causing your plants to die then you will need to pick the right type of soil for your garden. Your first step in this direction is choosing whether you want to use potting soil or growing soil.

Potting Soil

Potting soil is a type of growing medium that is used primarily for container gardens and raised bed gardens. It has a fine texture but it has enough power to hold the moisture and nutrients that your plant needs until it can start absorbing them on its own. It also contains nutrients such as peat moss that are beneficial in their own right.

Growing Soil

Grow soil is the most common type of soil that people use for their gardens. It has a coarser texture than potting soil and it is used in a much larger area. It also contains various organic materials to make it more beneficial to different types of plants. Products like peat moss, compost, and manure are added to make this soil work well with nearly all types of plants.

How to care for your garden with proper techniques

In order for growing plants to be successful in any type of garden, you will need to stick with some basic steps that can make all the difference. The first thing you need to do is get rid of any weeds in your garden. This will allow for the soil to be free from unwanted vegetation and it will make it easier for you and your plants to thrive.

After you have cleaned up your garden, it is time to start building your garden bed. You can use a variety of types of material in the ground to make sure that it is correct for how and what type of plants you want growing in it. 

For example, if you are growing vegetables, then a mix of leaf mold, peat moss, vermiculite, and compost would be perfect. If you are growing fruit trees or berry plants then a mix that contains all these items would be fine too. You will also have to make sure that the soil in your garden is well prepared before you plant anything.

Even though you are taking care of your garden using the above-mentioned steps, you still need to provide the proper nutrients for your plants to grow properly. The best way to do this is through fertilizer application. 

You can buy fertilizers that contain all of these nutrients and they will be ready to use once you have added some soil into the mix. This should improve the chances of success for your plants in harvesting their crops and it will also keep them healthy throughout their life cycle.


Although there are many common problems that people might encounter, some of them are much more likely than others. You should be prepared for problems such as poor drainage or high pH levels because they will happen with some frequency. If you have all of the above solutions in place, then you will be able to take better care of your plants.

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2 thoughts on “8 Common Soil Problems (And How to Fix Them)”

  1. This blog post is for those who went past the beginnings of a novice plant parent. This article came up on my search, and it’s jam-packed with information that I needed. To solve a soil problem, you first need to know what the problem is and make your next steps from there, and this article can get you started identifying the soil issue you may be facing.


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