How to Tell If Your Garden Soil is Too Wet or Too Dry

Soil has to be neither too wet or too dry to be worked.
Soil has to be neither too wet or too dry to be worked. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

If your garden soil is too dry, your seeds and plants might dry up and die. If it's too wet, they could rot. Working your soil when it's too wet or dry also damages the structure of the soil. You can perform a straightforward test to tell if your garden soil is just right.

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Dig up a small patch of your soil to about the depth of a trowel, about 6 to 8 inches.

Gather a handful of soil from the middle of this dig. Squeeze your hand tight and open your hand.

See how the soil reacts to being squeezed. If it doesn't form a ball or falls apart immediately, it's too dry. Add compost or peat moss and water it regularly. If it does form a ball that holds together, continue to the next step.

Press your finger against the ball. If the ball continues to hold together and even molds to the shape of your finger, the soil is too wet. Let it dry out before doing anything more to it. If the ball cracked and started to crumble when you pressed on it, it's just about right. It’s time to dig up the garden, add soil amendments and plant.


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