Improving Soil Quality With Topsoil

If you’re planning a large landscaping project, there’s a very good chance that you’ll need to bring in some topsoil to complete it properly. Topsoil is sifted and screened to ensure that no sticks, rocks or other debris is introduced to your lawn or garden. 

It’s important to understand the difference between topsoil and fill dirt before you begin a landscaping project, even if you’re working with a landscaping contractor and designer. Fill dirt is typically a mixture of soil and sod removed from other projects that has not been sifted or separated and is used for heavy-duty lawn leveling projects like filling an old swimming pool or pond. Fill dirt will usually require a second layer of high-quality topsoil before it’s suitable for planting or sod installation. 

Topsoil typically does not contain any added fertilizers, but is still a rich, fertile soil that’s ideal for planting and leveling uneven areas of your lawn or garden. Properties with particularly poor soil quality will require the addition of clean, healthy topsoil to properly foster the establishment and growth of new plant life for landscaping design. If the soil on your property is sandy or comprised largely of clay that doesn’t promote plant growth, you’ll almost certainly need to introduce topsoil before planting to ensure that your new landscaping additions thrive and live up to their full potential. 

Your landscaping contractor or supplier may also suggest the addition of topsoil if you’re planning to install sod to start a new lawn for leveling purposes, or if part of your design includes the building and creation of raised beds for gardening.

Choosing Soil For Your Landscaping Project

If you are new to landscaping, deciding what soil you need for different projects can be daunting. There are literally dozens upon dozens of soils you can buy, mix and use. Although advanced gardeners may like to create their own soil mixes, many supply companies have excellent pre-made mixes that will are specially designed for different projects. 

Topsoil is the main ingredient for almost any landscaping project. Simply, topsoil is healthy soil with all the rocks, sticks and other debris removed.This basic building block is what is used to aid in planting and leveling yards and gardens. Although basic topsoil does not contain fertilizer, by adding it to your existing soil that may be depleted in nutrients, it can foster a healthier lawn or garden. 

If you are looking for soil for planting flowers, shrubs or perennial gardens, you want a mix that is blended for these types of plants. Many will have a combination of mulch, sand and topsoil to give the right blend of nutrients and water holding stability to make your flower gardens flourish. Look for soil combinations that specifically say they are flower mixes. 

There are also soil blends that are tailored for specific purposes such as filling retention ponds. This soil needs to act as a filter for contaminants and will be specially mixed bio soils. Make sure you find a landscape supplier that has the correct mix for your retention pond needs. 

Creating a beautiful lawn and garden does not need to take a chemistry or geology degree. Most beginners will find that they only need a few types of soils and soil mixes that are already pre-made for them at their local landscape suppliers.

Topsoil: An Essential Ingredient for Seasonal Landscape Maintenance

This spring, many homeowners will grapple with the challenges of seasonal landscape maintenance. As warmer days arrive, old gardening projects resurface and the task of sprucing up outside spaces begins. Reestablishing the lushness of summertime lawns is a priority around this time of the year. Topsoil is an essential ingredient for restoring your lawn and for healthy springtime beds and vegetable gardens.

Topsoil promotes healthy plant growth and improves soil structure due to its extremely high mineral and plant nutrient content. Natural topsoil is excavated from the upper layer of pristine Greenfield sites or from former agricultural land and is the result of dynamic natural processes that have occurred in the soil over time. Manufactured topsoil is natural topsoil that has been enriched with organic materials like peat moss, composted leaves, aged rice hulls and lime.

Spring is the best time to overseed a lawn and topdressing with topsoil is the best way to prepare a lawn for overseeding. Whether you are overseeding an entire lawn or filling in patchy spots, high quality, fertile topsoil is the answer to your lawn renovation needs. Topsoil helps newly planted trees and shrubs develop a healthy root system and growth pattern, making it a necessary soil conditioner for new sods, for seed starting, or for newly planted trees and shrubs. It is invaluable for starting new lawns, providing an even surface and firm foundation for installing turf or for seeding. Topsoil is also used to revive ‘dead’ garden beds that have been eroded by seasonal changes.

Topsoil truly is the ideal, multi-purpose soil amendment. It improves the tilth and cultivability of soil, aids moisture retention and helps to eliminate weeds and soilborne diseases. Used equally in residential landscaping and commercial turfing projects, such as golf courses and sporting fields, topsoil is essential for safeguarding the long-term health and vibrancy of lawns and plants.

How To Tell If Commercial Topsoil is Healthy

Topsoil is the topmost layer of the earth’s surface; normally, no deeper than about eight inches.  Its unique combination of decayed organic matter creates a nutrient and mineral-rich environment that is necessary for plants to grow.

It can be hard to find naturally, especially in urban areas, so commercial topsoil has become popular with gardeners looking to improve their garden or lawn soil.  You can find this at your local landscape supply cent but be sure to check the soil carefully when buying.

Many states don’t enforce regulations regarding what constitutes topsoil.  In these cases, manufacturers may use sand, manure, or sawdust mixtures instead and foreign objects like rocks, weeds, seeds or even harsh chemical traces could interfere with your own plants’ health.

Unhealthy topsoil is grayish, dry, and crumbly but you can’t always depend on just your eyes.  Some manufacturers will combine wood ashes with poor soil to give it the rich, dark color of a healthy mix.   So you need to learn as much as you can about the mix before purchasing it.

Try examining the soil for rocks or large roots or anything overly hard.  Feel it for moisture – it should have a crumbly texture.  You’ll also want to smell it.  Topsoil has a natural, earthy smell and any foreign  chemical scent will be obvious.

If you’re buying from a gardening or landscape supply center, you can ask for test data of the topsoil.  You’ll want to see information about the pH, acidity, and the amount of clay or sand in it.  An acceptable mix will have a pH between 5.5 and 7.5 and be labeled loam or sandy loam.  This is important since sandy soil won’t hold water and minerals and clay won’t allow proper drainage.