What kind of soil do I have in my backyard?

The type of soil you have in your backyard depends on where you live.

The most important thing to note is that your soil is like it is, because of where it is.

The information below may help you describe the types of soil likely in your area, but the only real way to know what the soil is like in your backyard is to take a spade and go and have a look.

Soils in different types of areas

Here are a few general examples of soils in different areas.

On top of a hill: Soils are likely to be shallow and stony.

On a sand dune: Soils are likely to be very deep and sandy.

On a flood plain of a large river: Soils are likely to be deep, but highly variable depending on how close you live to the river channel and on the type of landscapes in the catchment above your house.

In areas with lush of vegetation: Soils are likely to be very high in organic matter.

Key factors

There are 5 key factors which together determine soil type:

1. Parent material: (geology, alluvium or wind blown material) is the soil building blocks.

2. Landform: influences soil properties such as drainage and processes like erosion.

3. Climate: water availability influences weathering of parent material and soil development.

4. Time: soils develop very, very, slowly.

5. Organisms: vegetation, soil fauna and human activity all play a role in soil development.

Data on soils in your area

If you would like to know more about the soils which have already been described in your area, you can look up eSPADE which is a database which contains information on public soil profiles in NSW.