If you have been researching starting a garden or improving your garden, you have probably seen the word “topsoil.” Topsoil found naturally in the native soil in your garden is different than the topsoil you find at your local nursery or home center. We will review the difference and when to use the kind found at your garden center. But first, let’s understand what is topsoil.
True topsoil is found in native soil. It is the top layer of soil, which can be 4 to 12 inches in depth. The texture and compilation of materials may vary. However, top soils that are loamier (than clay or sand based) are often best because they are rich in organic matter that holds not only moisture but also an entire ecosystem of beneficial microbial life that contributes nutrients for healthy plant growth.
Topsoil purchased at a garden center can be an economical way to amend your garden bed and lawn. There are different types of topsoil, so be sure you pick the one best suited for your project. Good topsoil contains the necessary nutrients for your plants to survive. It can help protect plants and seedlings, as well as correct soil issues like improper pH levels.
One of the most common misconceptions about topsoil is in regard to garden soil. When looking into what is potting soil and what is topsoil, you’ll find out that they have very little in common. In fact, potting soil may have no actual soil in it at all. It needs to drain well while staying aerated, and each manufacturer has its own special blend. Ingredients such as sphagnum moss, coir or coconut husks, bark, and vermiculite are mixed together to give a texture that holds growing roots, delivering food and moisture while allowing the proper drainage required for potted plants. Topsoil, on the other hand, has no specific ingredients and can be the scraped top from weedy fields or other natural spaces mixed with sand, compost, manure, and a number of other ingredients. It doesn’t work well by itself and is meant to be more of a soil conditioner than an actual planting medium.
Due to a variety of factors, it’s not uncommon to notice patches of your lawn where grass isn’t growing well. You may even notice areas of your yard that are slightly uneven. Topsoil is a great remedy for both problems.
To grow grass, simply spread topsoil across the area so it is 1 inch deep. Evenly distribute grass seeds and till the soil to combine. Water the area daily.
To fix areas of your yard that are uneven, spread soil so it is a couple of inches deep. Level the area and care for it as normal. The grass underneath will grow through and eventually the depression will be unnoticeable.
Plants and flowers draw their nutrients from the dirt they live in. However, it’s often necessary to replenish these nutrients, especially if your garden endured a long winter. One of the best ways to replenish the nutrients that your plants crave is through a fresh layer of topsoil. As mentioned before, topsoil features decomposed plant matter (or organic matter) which helps to nourish your plants. Mix the soil with compost for additional nutrients.