Assessing Your Soil for the Coming Year

Assessing Your Soil for the Coming Year

Assessing Your Soil for the Coming Year

As we approach the new year, it's essential to start assessing the health of your garden's soil. Doing so can help you plan for the upcoming year and ensure that your plants have the necessary nutrients and support to thrive. In this blog post, we'll discuss some key factors to consider when evaluating your soil and provide some tips for getting your garden ready for the year ahead.

This article is part of our New Years Garden Planning series. New year, new garden!

What we’ve covered so far:

Choose Your Garden Style

Create Your Own Garden Planner for the New Year

Why Start an Edible Garden in the New Year

This week, we're taking a thorough look at one of the most important aspects of planning your garden for the new year: understanding the health and quality of your soil. Doing so could give you the advantage you need to grow bigger and healthier plants than ever before.

Soil and a leaf from overhead view.

The pH Level

The pH level of your soil is an important factor to consider when assessing your soil for the coming year. It can affect the health of your plants, as some prefer soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH level between 6 and 7. If your soil is too acidic or too alkaline, it can be difficult for plants to absorb the necessary nutrients. To determine the pH level of your soil, you can use a pH test kit, which can be found at most garden centers. The results of the test will help you decide which necessary soil amendments should be applied to give your plants the best chance for success.

Soil with leaves sprouting.

Nutrient Content

You can also find soil test kits online, which can be mailed to a lab for analysis. Once you have the results of your soil test, you can determine which nutrients are lacking and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if your test results show low nitrogen levels, you can add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to help raise the nutrient level in your soil. Knowing the nutrient content of your soil is a critical step in planning for a successful growing season.

Soil on a farm between rows of crops with the sun setting.

Planning for the Coming Year

 You can test the pH level of your soil by using a soil testing kit, which can be purchased from your local garden center. By testing the soil, you can determine if it is too acidic or alkaline, and adjust the pH level accordingly. Testing for nutrient content is also important, as this will help you determine which type of fertilizer or compost to use. After adding these amendments, be sure to test your soil again to make sure the pH level and nutrient content are appropriate for the plants you intend to grow.


The texture of your soil has an important effect on the amount of water and air that can reach your plant's roots. Sandy soils have large particles that allow for good drainage but don't hold onto much water or nutrients. Clay soils have small particles that hold onto water and nutrients well, but can become compacted easily. Loamy soils have a balance of both large and small particles, allowing for adequate drainage and water retention, making them ideal for most plants. Knowing the texture of your soil can help you determine which plants will thrive in your garden and how to amend the soil to improve it.

A hand holding soil.


Finally, it's important to consider the drainage of your soil.

Soil drainage is an important aspect to consider when gardening, as it can impact the health of your plants. The following are steps to test and improve the drainage of your soil.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Dig a hole about 12 inches deep in your garden.
  2. Fill the hole with water and observe how long it takes for the water to drain.
  3. If the water drains away within a few hours, your soil has good drainage.
  4. If the water takes longer to drain, your soil may need to be improved.
  5. To improve the drainage of your soil, you can mix in organic matter such as compost or peat moss.
  6. Add sand or grit to increase drainage.
  7. If your soil is too clay-like, you can add gypsum to help break up the clay particles.
  8. Aerate your soil regularly to help water drain away more quickly.

Assessing your soil is a crucial step in planning for the coming year. By understanding the pH level, nutrient content, texture, and drainage of your soil, you can ensure that your plants have the support they need to thrive. Remember always to perform a pH test, soil test, and test the drainage of your soil to have the most accurate understanding of your soil.