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Soil Terms You May Hear Us Use

GlossaryIf you’re new to gardening, you may have come across terms or phrases associated with soil and have wondered “what does that mean, exactly?”

Well, wonder no more.

We’ve put together a list of some common soil terms you might hear us use when you come and visit us.

Check it out – or better yet, feel free to print this page and keep it with you as you work in the garden with soil bags from Van Beek’s Garden Supplies.


The process of puncturing the soil with small holes so that fresh air, water and nutrients can make their way inside of it

Aeration helps with soil compaction, which means that too much soil and other material is stuck together in a small space, which prevents circulation of air, water and nutrients


Soil which is clumped together in such a way that when you pick it up or work with it, it acts like a single piece – instead of soil particles which break apart

Arable Soil

Soil that’s perfect for plowing and cultivation


A layer of material that can be placed underneath the soil (or any other material you want to lay on top of the base)

The main reasons you would put down a base are for load distribution, drainage or reducing frost action


Stiff, sticky fine-grained soil particle that’s either yellow, red or blue-gray in colour

Clay is a hard layer in the soil (it won’t allow liquid or water features to pass through) but can be molded when wet and is used to make bricks, pottery and ceramics


Mixture of organic residues and soil that’s placed in a pile, made wet and allowed to decompose

DDepleted Soil

Soil that has lost most of its valuable nutrients



Natural or synthetic material that’s added to soil to provide it with extra nutrients to help it with plant growth

Frost Action

Freezing and thawing of moisture in the soil and the effects it has on it


Adding water artificially (so not through rainfall) to soil for the purpose of growing fruits, vegetables and other crops



Material like straw, sawdust, wood chips or leaves that is spread on the surface of soil

Mulch is applied to protect the soil and plant roots from the harmful effects of rain drops, soil freezing and evaporation

PPeat Soil

Natural soil that only has slight – if any – decomposition to it


Manmade chemicals designed to kill pests which are harmful to crops, gardens or plants

Common pests include insects, mites, weeds, rodents and microorganisms

Productive Soil

Soil in which all the conditions are idea for great vegetable or plant gardening


The natural material found on the surface of the earth that supports the growth of land plants



The very top layer of soil that’s usually moved and cultivated for gardening or planting

Topsoil usually ranges from 3” to 10” in depth from the surface

Triple Mix Soil

A specialized blend of soil designed to provide your garden with the vital nutrients it needs to grow and thrive

We’re your soil source – from A to Z

Now that you know your soil ABCs, it’s time to put words into action as you build your garden.

Contact us with all your soil needs and questions. We know what we’re talking about, so we’ll get back to you with the right answers.

And now that you’ve read our handy-dandy list of soil terms, you know what you’re talking about too.

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