20th October 2018
What is the difference between top soil and garden soil?
A few weeds will grow in it; that's all. The difference between topsoil and garden soil is an even finer distinction than the difference between soil and dirt, and it has to do with the amount of organic matter, and to a lesser extent, the types of trace minerals and the ratio of clay, sand and silt.
What does the topsoil do?
Topsoil is the top layer of the earth's surface. Topsoil is dark in color and high in organic matter, which makes it very easy to till and fertilize ground for growing plants. It is scraped from the ground and sold in bags or bulk, often called "black dirt".
To improve sandy soil:
- Work in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or finished compost.
- Mulch around your plants with leaves, wood chips, bark, hay or straw. Mulch retains moisture and cools the soil.
- Add at least 2 inches of organic matter each year.
- Grow cover crops or green manures.
Your topsoil is extremely important to your grass seeds but should be amended prior to any seed dispersal. In general, work about 4 inches of organic material, like compost, into your topsoil. By maintaining a friable and fertile topsoil habitat, your seeds have the best chance for vigorous growth and establishment.
What is the difference between “topsoil” and “potting soil,” and which one should you use? Potting soil is for planting in containers. Topsoil is sand or clay (ground-up rocks), mixed with organic materials like compost. Potting soil is a mixture of peat moss and other organic materials like composted sawdust.
Topsoil can be used to cover the ground, to create new beds, borders or to provide a base for turf laying or sowing grass seed. In paved gardens where there is no access to soil, topsoil can be used in raised beds for growing many plants, including vegetables.
Topsoil formation is an incredibly slow process, typically taking 100 years for every inch of soil. It is formed from the weathering of rocks and the subsequent addition of organic material from decaying plants and animals. This enriches the soil and adds the nutrients essential to support plant life.
The first is made up of decomposed matter, such as leaf litter. The topsoil horizon also contains organic materials and is dark brown to black. This layer is great for plants. Leaching matter makes up the third horizon of the soil profile, which consists mainly of sand, silt, and clay.
Fill dirt is earthy material which is used to fill in a depression or hole in the ground or create mounds or otherwise artificially change the grade or elevation of real property.
Organic soil is rich in humus, the end result of decaying materials such as leaves, grass clippings and compost. It holds moisture, but drains well. Good organic garden soil is loose and fluffy — filled with air that plant roots need — and it has plenty of minerals essential for vigorous plant growth.
Subsoil is the layer of soil under the topsoil on the surface of the ground. Like topsoil it is composed of a variable mixture of small particles such as sand, silt and/or clay, but with a much lower percentage of organic matter and humus.
Importance. Plants generally concentrate their roots in and obtain most of their vital nutrients from this layer. Actual depth of the topsoil layer can be measured as the depth from the surface to the first densely packed soil layer known as subsoil.
Make a new bed by digging:
- Remove grass or other existing vegetation with a flat spade or kill with a glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup.
- Spread two or three inches of organic matter, well-rotted manure, leaf mold (composted leaves) or compost, over the bed.
- Turn soil.
- Cut existing grass at your mower's lowest setting.
First is the topsoil, then the compost and, finally, a mulch to blanket it all. Topsoil is the layer of humus (partially decomposed organic matter) between the surface and the subsoil. Once upon a time, topsoil was a deep, rich, organic layer. But these two products — compost and topsoil — are not interchangeable.
The layers of the soil are called horizons. The uppermost horizon is called the topsoil layer. The topsoil layer is a mixture of sand, silt, clay and broken down organic matter, called humus. Humus is rich, highly decomposed organic matter mostly made from dead plants, crunched-up leaves, dead insects and twigs.
Most potting soil you buy in a garden center are comprised of three basic ingredients: peat moss, pine bark, and either perlite or vermiculite (to provide air space). Peat moss comes from the peat bogs of the northern United States and Canada; this is usually considered the higher quality type of peat moss.
Parent material is the underlying geological material (generally bedrock or a superficial or drift deposit) in which soil horizons form.
Potting soil, also known as potting mix or potting compost, is a medium in which to grow plants, herbs and vegetables in a pot or other durable container. The first recorded use of the term is from an 1861 issue of the American Agriculturist.
Mulching is generally used to improve the soil around plants, but it also gives your garden a neat, tidy appearance and can reduce the amount of time spent on tasks such as watering and weeding. Mulches help soil retain moisture in summer, prevent weeds from growing and protect the roots of plants in winter.