How Smart Gardeners Pick Plants That Improve Soil Quality

Soil

You may find that you don’t have the time or tools to amend the soil for all of the plants you would like to grow. That’s okay because there are other options that still include a garden!

There are many plants that have adapted to certain types of soil conditions and plants that may also help improve your soil along the way. There are also many cover crops that improve soil and work as a green manure.

In this guide, we'll go over some of the best plants for your soil type and how to improve your soil using plants.

hands gathering parsley in garden

Gardening for Your Soil Type

Acidic soil

Blueberries, raspberries, parsley, potato, azaleas and hydrangeas are all plants that can tolerate a more acidic soil with a lower pH between 4.0 and 6.0.

Alkaline soil

Arugula, cabbage, chives, cilantro, lettuce, lilacs, and buddleia bushes can be grown in soil with a moderately alkaline pH up to 7.5.

cabbage growing in garden

With these suggestions, you can still produce amazing things for your kitchen, including some fragrant flowers for a centerpiece!

Sandy soils

Your soil also has its own unique soil type or texture. With so many types of plants, there are ones that excel in each type of soil.

daikon radishes in soil

Carrots, radishes, and garlic like to grow in more sandy soils. You could also plant blanket flower, zinnia, or a buddleia bush in this type of soil for some added color!

Clay soil

For a more clay soil, you will want to choose plants with shallow roots that don’t mind being a little bit wet since clay soils don’t drain well.

lettuce growing in rows

You could grow lettuce, broccoli, and beans for some yummy veggies - as well as aster or day lily if you’d like some flowers.

Using Cover Crops to Improve Your Soil

Whenever your garden or beds aren’t in use, add some cover crops to protect your soil from erosion, suppress weeds, and foster a healthy soil microbiome. 


Legumes like clover or winter peas can fix nitrogen for depleted soils. Daikon Driller radishes can help to break up the soil for future plantings.


Getting some plants in your garden, no matter what your soil conditions, will truly help you over time. Leaving the plant residues on your garden once the season has finished will add organic matter to your soil, improving structure as well as water and nutrient holding capacity.


Having living roots will stimulate microorganisms and help cycle nutrients through your soil. The more types of plants you’re able to find to fit your garden, the more benefits your soil will see in the coming years!


Another long-term solution for any soil sorrows would be to explore the idea of container or raised bed gardening. These structures will definitely last for a while, and you can use the knowledge you’ve gained from other articles to keep up with your soil in these types of gardens.


Resources:

What Flowers Grow In Acidic Soil?

Vegetable Crop Soil pH Tolerances


Written by Teresa Chandler