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Understanding The Differences Between Topsoil And Garden Soil

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When you're planning a landscaping project that requires the purchase of a large quantity of soil, you're going to want to make sure you are opting for the right soil for your needs. It's a common assumption that topsoil and garden soil are interchangeable, but they are two quite different products, and understanding the differences can save you money and frustration. Here's an overview of these two types of soil:


In landscaping terms, topsoil refers to soil with a loamy consistency that's taken from the uppermost surface of the ground and screened to remove debris. After being screened, topsoil has a fine and consistent texture that makes it easy to work with. It's often used as a filler when levelling an area, but despite it not being enriched, it can still be used in garden beds and vegetable patches. Topsoil itself does not have enough nutrients to be the sole soil used when growing plants. However, if you have a large garden bed to fill, topsoil can be used to fill the lower third of a flower or vegetable bed before adding more nutrient-dense soil.

Garden Soil

When you take screened topsoil and enrich it with nutrients, such as organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorous, you have garden soil. This type of soil has been amended to make it suitable for growing a wide range of plants and it is, therefore, more expensive than topsoil. Some garden soils have been enriched to make them suitable for growing vegetables, while others have been enriched to provide a suitable environment for bulbs and other perennial plants to grow in. Garden soils come with or without the addition of chemicals to promote plant growth and deter pests, and they are generally available in smaller bags than topsoil, which is usually used for large-scale landscaping projects. Opt for garden soil for filling hanging baskets, creating raised beds, container gardening and planting ornamental shrubs.

If you're unsure of the best type of soil to purchase for your needs, discuss your plans with your local landscaping supply company. They can help you find soil with the correct balance of nutrients and help you calculate how much you need. They can also provide guidance on when a blend of both topsoil and garden soil may be acceptable, and some soil suppliers will allow you to return unused bags of soil if you find you don't end up needing the quantity you ordered.

Learn more about soil supplies by talking to a landscaping professional.