Should You Buy Topsoil or Garden Soil?

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Should You Buy Topsoil or Garden Soil?

When gardening, the term "soil" is often preferred to the term "dirt". However, there are many different types of soils that gardeners should understand and use. Indeed, the health and vitality of your soil, as well as the proper use of commercial soils, is one of the most important aspects of successful plant growth. Two popular types of soil include topsoil and garden soil. Each soil possesses a unique structure and purpose, which can help you make an informed choice about the proper type of soil to use for each gardening job.



In geological terms, topsoil refers to the uppermost layer of dirt on the earth's surface. In gardening, packets of topsoil contain a specific composition of elements, which aid in growth when mixed with existing soil and other compounds.


Most commercial blends of topsoil include between 2 per cent and 10 per cent of organic matter, which makes it much more nutrient-dense than other forms of commercial soil or natural garden dirt. In its natural form, the topsoil layer gains its high nutrient content from the growth of plants and their subsequent decomposition. Depending on the ecology of the area, the layer of topsoil may extend down 30 cm or more from the surface.


In gardening, commercial topsoil adds necessary nutrients to otherwise infertile ground. Gardeners use topsoil to enhance the nutrient density of their garden, creating conditions that are ideal for the types of plants they cultivate.


Garden soil

When found in nature, the term "garden soil" simply refers to the natural soil composition of a given area, which varies greatly from space to space. However, commercially speaking, garden soil serves as a filling substance.


In its natural state, most garden soil is a combination of typical soil particles such as sand, silt, clay, and sandy loam. The amount of organic matter varies, but in general, includes less than is typically found in nutrient-rich topsoil.

Commercial garden soil is structured in a similar manner to soil found in nature. It consists mostly of sand, silt, and clay, with a pH between 6 and 7. There may also be added amendments in commercial garden soil, such as fertiliser or compost.


Because commercial garden soil closely resembles the actual soil found in the earth, its most common use is as filler in areas such as raised beds. Rather than adding nutrients to soil, when you add garden soil to areas that lack loose soil, either naturally or due to landscaping, you essentially build up the available planting space without affecting the growth potential the area.


Choosing the right soil for each garden job

Over time, experienced gardeners learn which combinations of soil and other nutrient fillers are most conducive to success for their area, ecology, and plants. Therefore, there is no clear cut answer to which type of soil you should use for any particular gardening project, but some simple guidelines about the mixture of soil types and what results they provide help in the decision making process.

Testing the soil

It is easy to discover if you need to change the nutrient content of your garden soil and therefore add in topsoil. Simply use a commercial soil test kit to determine the composition of the soil. Sometimes, this involves sending a sample off for analysis that includes a detailed reading on statistics such as pH, fertility, structure, and organic matter.

Mixing soils

Once you know about the composition of the soil in your garden, choosing the right type of soil to add, whether garden soil, topsoil, or something else, is easy. It is often necessary to mix elements in order to add bulk as well as nutrient content while maintaining balanced pH levels.

Simply dumping commercial soil on top of existing soil is not enough. Instead, the gardener should begin by tilling the existing soil, add in the commercial soil, and then till it again. This mixes the elements thoroughly, allowing plants to receive an even distribution of nutrients.


How to buy gardening supplies on eBay

It is easy to find all the gardening supplies you need, from the soil itself to garden tools like tillers and spades, when shopping on eBay. Simply start a search on any page of the site via the main search bar. From there, it is easy to limit your options according to price or even the location of items. In addition, buying bundles of items, such as garden tools, saves time and money.

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