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What is Topsoil?


When you’re new to gardening or landscaping, you may have a lot of questions. Among them, you may have the most questions about topsoil due to the various opinions from friends, family, and neighbors. Fortunately, procuring topsoil for your garden is as easy as searching for “topsoil near me” on the internet. However, using it requires a bit of know-how. Let’s check out what is topsoil and how you can use it in your garden:

The Details

  1. Topsoil isn’t the only type of soil – There are different types of soil you can use for your gardening and landscaping projects. From potting soil and gardening soil to native soil. However, topsoil is very different. True topsoil is a part of the native soil. That means it’s found in your yard or garden and can be a combination of silt, loam, sand, and clay. As the name suggests, it’s the top layer of soil that can be anywhere from 4 inches to 12 inches in depth. By now you may have figured out that topsoil can vary dramatically depending on the local conditions and the geographic location.

Even in the same garden or yard, topsoil can differ drastically due to its unique composition. When you have the perfect ratio of sand, silt, loam, and clay in your topsoil, you get something that allows for easy drainage, yet it’s capable of retaining enough moisture for the roots. The pH level of topsoil can also vary, and it can be acidic or alkaline in nature. That’s why it’s important to figure out the pH level of the soil so that you don’t plant unsuitable plants that may die off.

  1. Your yard may need topsoil – If you have moved into a home that was previously owned by a skilled gardener or landscaper, you may have awesome soil composition in your yard. However, that’s not the case in most homes, especially newly constructed ones. Good quality soil for plants is hard to come by in an urban or suburban environment and that’s why you need to develop it yourself. It needs to have a good amount of organic matter that can be used by plants as nutrition. It also needs to have good drainage and needs to hold the right amount of water. Apart from that, the soil needs to be loose enough to be dug up easily so that it can host a thriving micro-ecosystem and you can make changes with new plants and pull out weeds with ease.

That’s why you need to buy topsoil rich in organic matter and with the right composition. You can dump the topsoil directly over the existing layer of soil, plant the seeds and let nature do the rest. If you want quicker results, you can also till the soil. To add more nutrients to your soil, you can either make a batch of compost or buy it from the store and add it to the soil. This may seem labor-intensive since it is. Gardening is a lot of hard work that lets you reap rewards in the form of beautiful flowers and fresh produce that can go into your kitchen.

  1. You don’t need to till the soil too often – People who are new to gardening often have the wrong assumption about tilling the soil. If you have a new garden space that needs new topsoil, compost, and quick activity, then it’s true. However, after that first step, it’s best to not physically disturb the soil. When you turn the soil too much, you stimulate weed activity and you’ll end up spending more time ripping them off than on your actual plants. Once the soil has a decent micro-organic activity after the first tilling, the microbes and beneficial insects will do a great job at mixing organic matter with soil. No need to waste your labor. You would have plenty of other opportunities to use it in your garden.

However, if the air pockets in your soil get messed up and it turns compact, then you need to till the soil. Roots need those air pockets to breathe and stay healthy. You can prevent the soil from turning compact by staying off it after it’s wet. Carefully plan the landscaping of your garden with strategically placed steppingstone pathways so that you can easily take care of the plants without applying any pressure on the soil.

  1. Uses of topsoil – Since there are different types of topsoil, make sure that you purchase one with the right composition for your needs. Here’s how you can use topsoil:
  • Refurbish your garden or make a new plant bed – Rich topsoil doesn’t just provide nutrients for growing plants but also protects seedlings. It can also help you with several issues like soil pH level and drainage. To make a new plant bed in your garden or refurbish an old one, you can spread a layer of topsoil with a thickness of two inches or more over the existing soil. After that, add a layer of compost and till the soil up to 4 inches to thoroughly mix it.
  • Repair damaged lawns – You can also use topsoil to repair damaged lawns. You can use cheap topsoil to fill up low-lying areas, depressions, and other imperfections in the yard. You can get away with cheap soil in the yard since you don’t need rich topsoil for growing grass. You can even grow a fresh bed of grass by spreading a layer of topsoil over the lawn and level it with a shovel. New grass would sprout through the new layer and give you a fresh and probably denser green patch. If you want to change the species of grass and want something completely new, you need to spread a one-inch-thick layer of good quality topsoil and work the grass seeds into the soil with a rake.


Now that you know all about topsoil, it’s easy to figure out how you should use it in your garden and landscaping projects. As mentioned above, you can easily get large quantities of topsoil for your projects by searching for “topsoil near me”.

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