Common Myths About Topsoil

Construction & Contractors Blog

Topsoil is a mixture of sand, clay, and silt that is dark in color and contains a high percentage of organic matter. It is typically used in garden beds and when planting trees or shrubs. Depending on how much topsoil you need, it can be purchased in large bags from a garden center, or you can arrange for bulk deliveries. Some people have confusion about topsoil and how to use it. Common myths surrounding topsoil include: 

Myth #1: Topsoil is Not Much Different than the Dirt in My Yard

If you're planning on planting a garden bed, you don't want to use the dirt that is already in your yard as soil. Despite what some people think, topsoil is actually quite a bit different than regular dirt. Topsoil is formulated to have certain percentages of sand, clay, and silt, as well as organic matter that helps fertilize seeds or newly planted plants. If you want the plants in your garden bed to grow and thrive, using a high-quality topsoil is essential.

Myth #2: Using Topsoil Eliminates the Need to Fertilize

While quality topsoil is rich in organic matter and nutrients, fertilizing your garden is still important. Plants continually draw nutrients out of the soil that they are planted in, so your topsoil will be rich in nutrients when you lay it out, but its nutrients will be depleted by your plants. Don't be intimidated by fertilizing your garden-- there are a variety of liquid and granular fertilizers available that can replenish the nutrients in your soil.

Myth #3: Topsoil Doesn't Need to be Tilled

Like any type of dirt, it is possible for topsoil to become compacted over time or as it dries out after rain. When using quality topsoil, it is always a good idea to till the area before planting anything, especially vegetables or annuals. If you want to keep the soil as loose and rich as possible, add a few inches of mulch in as you're tilling. Soil that is properly tilled will have better drainage, which will ensure that your plants don't rot from exposure to excessive moisture.

Myth #4: All Topsoil is the Same

When shopping for topsoil, don't just randomly pick up the first bag that you see at a gardening center. High-quality topsoil has a variety of characteristics that make it superior to lower quality topsoil. Quality topsoil will have a low level of soluble salts, a neutral pH level, high levels of organic matter, and little to no coarse fragments, such as rocks or gravel. 

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