Silt is similar in texture to chalk but is much more versatile and easy to use. It's made up of very fine particles that give the soil a smooth, slippery texture. Because they're so fine, the particles in silt can be compacted very easily, which helps hold moisture and nutrients in place for long periods. Silt is often a good compromise between sand and clay soils, as it offers a density and weight that falls between these two materials [source: Gardening Data].
While silt is often chosen for its ability to be easily compacted, this tight compaction can also lead to problems with drainage. The tightly packed particles keep water from exiting the soil, which can be problematic for some types of plants. While silt holds water well for long periods, it can sometimes be difficult for air and water to enter the soil to access the roots. To remedy this problem, gardeners can take steps to break up compacted soil deposits periodically. Try adding compost to the top layer of the silt, or simply turn the top few inches of soil when it seems to be packed too tightly. Most moisture-loving plants will thrive in silty soil, including richly colored flowers and lush grasses or vines [source: BBC].