The Lowdown on Topsoil: What It Is and Why It Matters

Team McFly Sep 09, 2023
2 People Read
Table of Contents
  1. "From Ground Up: Unearthing the Secrets of Topsoil Health"
    1. What is Topsoil?
    2. What is topsoil used for?
    3. When should I use topsoil?
    4. How deep should topsoil be?
    5. What are the three types of topsoil?
    6. Do I need to add topsoil every year?
    7. What is the cost of Topsoil?
    8. Recent Related Posts:

"From Ground Up: Unearthing the Secrets of Topsoil Health"

What is Topsoil?

Topsoil is the layer of soil formed naturally when leaves, wood and other organic matter break down. It's rich in nutrients and retains enough moisture for roots to flourish.

Gardeners use topsoil to create raised beds, new lawns, and planting borders. It can also be used to replenish soil depleted from erosion.

garden bed

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

What is topsoil used for?

Topsoil is an amending soil used in gardens, lawns, and garden beds. It consists of a loam, sand, and clay mixture that can be left as-is or amended with fertilizer or compost to increase nutrients and aerate the soil.

Adding topsoil to soil can make it easier for grass and other plants to grow. The ideal time to add topsoil is during spring or fall, when rain keeps the soil moist and promotes biological activity.

Mix it with existing soil in the garden to improve its nutrient and drainage qualities, or add it to planters, raised beds, or containers. It is also suitable for hanging baskets which need lightweight yet well-draining soil that retains moisture but doesn't become too compacted.

When selecting topsoil, inspect it for high stone content, thick fibrous roots, weeds, and contaminants like glass or brick. Screened topsoil should be used; this has been filtered to remove debris and create a consistent texture.

If you need topsoil to mix with existing soil, opt for pulverized topsoil. It will have no lumps or clay, making it perfect for fine-grading projects.

You can purchase pre-made garden soil that contains screened topsoil and nutrient-rich compost. It can be found in bags at most nurseries or big box stores, making it ideal for large projects like reseeding a lawn or gardening bed.


When should I use topsoil?

Topsoil is an excellent way to improve the soil of your garden or lawn. It can help level out low spots, address drainage problems, or mix into existing soil before planting new flowers and vegetables.

When buying topsoil, knowing how to differentiate between quality and inferior varieties is essential. This is especially pertinent if you purchase them in a bag or bulk form, as these can vary in quality and appearance depending on what's inside.

Suppose you add topsoil to your existing soil. In that case, some of the new material must be mixed for optimal results. This allows water and moisture to percolate into the new layer, keeping roots from growing downward.

It is ideal for adding topsoil to your garden or lawn in spring or fall when rains will keep the soil moist and encourage biological activity. Doing this encourages microorganisms in the topsoil to break down naturally and release essential nutrients into your soil.

It's essential to remember that topsoil quality can vary between garden beds or even different locations in a yard, as different amounts of sand, silt, and clay exist. These variations in composition can drastically affect plant growth if not purchased with proper ratios for these three elements and an appropriate pH level.

Always purchase topsoil with the right ratios and pH levels to ensure the healthiest soil possible for your plants.

soil and plants

How deep should topsoil be?

When planting a lawn, the grassroots must have enough topsoil to spread. This provides enough room for growth and development while avoiding nutrient deficiencies or water shortages.

High-quality topsoil for grass should feel gritty and dark when touched. It also needs to contain some organic matter, which helps the soil retain its texture and provides adequate pore space for proper filtration and ventilation.

For gardening, the ideal soil should be loamy with a blend of 7 percent to 27 percent clay, 28 percent to 50 percent silt, and under 52 percent sand. This mixture retains little moisture and is easy to till into place.

Before using topsoil, screening it for large rocks or other debris is essential. Many bulk soil providers provide a "garden mix" or "planting mix," which contains screened topsoil with organic matter and drainage enhancers like sand.

A depth of 8 inches of topsoil is recommended for most garden projects. The existing soil should be rotated beforehand to ensure it reaches this depth and mixes evenly. Doing this helps avoid shallow root growth, compaction issues, drainage problems, and shock to new grass when it penetrates the old layer.

plants in top soil

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

What are the three types of topsoil?

Topsoil is the layer of soil on Earth's surface that has been nurtured by organic matter and nutrient-rich material over thousands of years. This makes it the ideal growing medium for plants, providing them with a soft and fertile substrate.

Planting flowers and vegetables on top of topsoil provides the ideal foundation for new gardens or lawns that require proper support. But to get the most out of your investment, use topsoil specifically tailored for your area.

Loam soil is a combination of Sand, Clay, and Silt. Each has its properties that make them useful in different contexts.

Sand topsoil is ideal for commercial and agricultural projects due to its higher mineral content. Furthermore, it has a better texture than clay which tends to be heavy and difficult to work with. The largest of these particles is sand. While sandy soils are poor water-retentive, they are excellent oxygen-conducting mediums for plant roots.

Clay soil is another popular type of soil used in gardens and landscapes. It tends to be heavier than sand and has an alkaline pH value, making it ideal for cultivating crops such as roses and lilacs that need deep roots.

Silt: Silt's medium-sized particles help the sand and clay blend and absorb more moisture than sand would on its own.

Gardening professionals know the importance of having nutrient-rich soil for growing plants. Investing in high-quality soil tested and certified free from weed seeds, metals, pesticides, and other hazardous elements is so important.

Do I need to add topsoil every year?

Are you wondering if adding topsoil to your garden is necessary? The answer is a resounding yes! Topsoil can help improve the soil in your area and give your plants the best chance at growth.

When adding topsoil to your garden, the ideal time is during autumn or spring, when rains tend to keep it moist and encourage biological activity. A few inches of high-quality topsoil will transform your garden into something completely new in no time!

Healthy topsoil should contain organic matter and minerals like sand, compost, or biosolids. Furthermore, it must be free from toxins that could compromise your garden's aesthetics and overall health.

Before purchasing topsoil for your garden needs, research the product. Check the manufacturer's website to see if they provide a wide selection of items and which ones they recommend for you specifically.

For maximum benefits from your purchase, try getting a local soil test. This will determine if the topsoil you're considering suits your area and what texture and drainage to expect. Alternatively, you could get your topsoil from a nearby nursery or farm; you can speak to someone in person!

What is the cost of Topsoil?

Topsoil is a nutrient-rich, organic layer of soil ideal for planting seeds and seedlings. It serves as the foundation for any garden or lawn and is integral to landscaping projects.

Topsoil prices vary based on where you purchase it and the quantity needed. Topsoil costs $3 to $6 per bag or $35 to $120 for a cubic yard; however, you can save money by purchasing in bulk.

dump truck

A 10- to 15-yard dump truck load of dirt costs $150-500, while a half-yard scoop costs $10-30. Prices fluctuate based on quantity ordered, material quality, and delivery fees.

Home improvement stores usually sell bags of topsoil for $2 to $5 each. Purchasing bulk is usually your best bet if you plan to use it in a large garden or landscaping project.

To determine whether a bag of topsoil is sandy, loamy, or clay, press it gently. Soil that drains quickly will likely be sandy, while soil that takes time to settle in will likely be clay.

Three types of topsoil exist black dirt, loam, and screened loam. Each has a distinct composition and provides distinct advantages.

Black dirt is the most affordable option, consisting of loam, sand, and silt. While it's ideal for gardens and lawns, black dirt doesn't contain as much organic matter as loam or screened loam does. Screened loam is middle-grade topsoil slightly more costly than black dirt but boasts higher organic content.

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Table of Contents
  1. "From Ground Up: Unearthing the Secrets of Topsoil Health"
    1. What is Topsoil?
    2. What is topsoil used for?
    3. When should I use topsoil?
    4. How deep should topsoil be?
    5. What are the three types of topsoil?
    6. Do I need to add topsoil every year?
    7. What is the cost of Topsoil?
    8. Recent Related Posts: