What You Need to Know When Choosing Topsoil

What You Need to Know When Choosing Topsoil


Novice gardeners need to learn about the variation of soil composition and its effect on plant growth. The types of topsoil can determine if a garden will flourish or flounder. Yet some types of topsoil that are terrible for farming can be great in other applications. The key is to know what the different types are composed of, and the effect they have on the soil below.

What Exactly Is Topsoil?

Topsoil is what it sounds like: the top two to eight inches of soil. Overall, soil is judged by just two factors: its fertility and the texture. In this case, fertility refers to how well the soil could potentially support agricultural growth. Topsoil can help improve the fertility of garden soil.

The Necessity of Topsoil When Planting.

Garden soil is all of the soil beneath the top most layer. This lower part is what truly determines the quality of the entire soil. Plant growth depends on a number of factors, however soil quality is a top consideration. While its not always possible to choose a new plot of land on which to plant, it is within the gardener’s control to add a rich layer of topsoil.

The Three Main Types of Topsoil.

What is topsoil made of? It actually depends on the type used. Landscapers and contractors actually have a few different options when it comes to topsoil delivery.

    1. Loam. Loam is actually a special mix of silt, sand, and clay. Some loam mixes are more sandy, and some have a higher concentration of clay. Loam is preferred in farming in particular because of the higher moisture content and nutrients as compared to sand.

    2. Clay. What is clay? It is actually the accumulation of decayed plants and rocks crushed to powder over millions of years. Very interesting stuff, actually, that has been used for thousands of years in building and art as it is impermeable to water. This makes clay excellent for creating dams and such barrier measures.

    3. Sand. Sand is a popular topsoil. This isn’t like the sand for sand boxes. It can be formed primarily of silica, which is crushed rocks, or of aragonite, which is mainly crushed mollusk shells. Sand is actually not recommended as topsoil for gardening as it retains moisture in such a way that delicate blooms can struggle to bloom through the thickness.

What Kind of Topsoil Do I Need For My Garden?

A good all around top soil is loam. The reason loam is generally recommended for gardening use is its versatility. Loam is comprised of several different minerals. Adjustments to the ratio of these components can create a variety of topsoils that serve different needs. The variety amongst pre-packaged topsoils allows for more customization for the home gardener to find what they need.

It would be a mistake to not add topsoil to your garden. Its not always possible to choose where you will plant. This means that often the soil quality is not as rich and fertile as you’d prefer. Adding a good thick layer of topsoil could help you achieve the garden you desire.