Top Soil vs Garden Soil: Full Description



by Bryan Mckenzie


No Comments

Home » Guides » Top Soil vs Garden Soil: Full Description
As an Amazon Associate we earn from commission of qualifying purchases.

Many newcomers don’t know the difference between top soil vs garden soil. Some of them consider it to be the same name for the soil. However, understanding the difference might be crucial for your garden. If you don’t want to waste all your efforts for nothing, you have to understand what’s the difference between topsoil and garden soil. It does not matter whether you are landscaping the yard or re-arranging flower beds, you need to use proper materials to grow anything. Wrong soil can be easily washed away by the rain or not provide enough nutrients to the plants you grow. Use this information to achieve the best results.

In Short

While topsoil is the upper layer of soil that many landscape specialists simply call dirt, it contains organic elements that help plants grow. At the same time, garden soil is topsoil with multiple helpful components for growing plants. Garden soil definition is slightly narrower since it was originally created for specific types of plants.

Top Soil vs Garden Soil Guide

To be able to answer the question “can I use garden soil for the lawn,” you have to learn the difference between them. If you have found these two types of soil in your local store and don’t know which one to pick, read the guide below and decide which option is the most beneficial for your plants. Although both of them might seem enriched in organics, they have their own specifics which you have to learn.

What is top soil?

Topsoil is the soil that contains sand, clay, and silt among other organic components found on the surface and up to 12 inches deep of the ground. It is widely used for grading. Is topsoil good for gardening? It depends on the plants you grow. For direct planting, gardeners widely use garden soil.

Top soil

Still, if you can’t find garden soil, topsoil is of suitable quality too. Find out its composition before you plant anything there. Learn the components of the local soil in advance. They can be suitable for one type of plant and totally useless for another. Maryland soil has a high level of sand in it, while the soil from the middle of the state is usually enriched with clay. For example, Virginia stands on the topsoil made of clay, and the territory of Delaware is sandy.

What is garden soil?

Garden soil is topsoil enriched with multiple organic components and compost suitable for plants. It feeds plants via their roots for years. Garden soil is more expensive, and you have to find the match for it since some nutrients fit specific flowers and grass. If your plants are picky, this soil will be more helpful for you since there’s no need to buy extra nutrients.

Basil plant in garden soil

You can choose the components that are included. Organic compost blend can contain nutrients for gardens, yards, flower beds, seeds, and sod. Some developers add fertilizers and chemicals there, so you need to ensure there is nothing similar in your blend. Can you use garden soil for grass? The answer is “yes,” just make sure that it has all the ingredients you need inside. The best option is to find the mix that suits natural conditions in the region so that your plants can easily adjust.

Types of topsoil and garden soil

You can find different topsoil types around the world. To know everything about your type is crucial since plants require a specific living environment to grow. Even at a small distance, the type of soil can vary, and your neighbors might have other soil structures than you. The soil has been moving around the country during the history of the planet, due to the glacial movement. It did not take one day but hundreds and thousands of years, so you can expect stability of your soil structure. There are different types of top soil for a garden:

  • sandy soil is usually less nutritious since nutrients are easily washed away;
  • clay soil is the most fertile type on the list; yet, it requires well-organized watering;
  • silty soil contains 80 percent of silt with a high fertility level.

Which type of soil is good for my garden?

If you are looking for the best yard soil that will benefit your plants, you have to learn the landscaping requirements and plant needs. Once you decide on the type of garden or flower bed you are going to plant, it is easier to search for the right type. The most popular soil is sandy loam topsoil that is widespread around the USA. However, if you want quick results and fertile land, you can try clay. Gardening soil has to contain all the nutrients to grow a specific plant. Make sure there are no chemicals if you want to go organic.

Afterward, check out the nutrients your plants need. You can fill the gap with the right soil. If you are worried about the price of gardening soil, consider it as an investment in the future. You might still need to add nutrients to some plants, and it would be better if you already had them inside the soil.

What’s the difference between topsoil and garden soil?

You might have noticed that topsoil is a general-purpose option, while garden soil is suitable for specific plants. Gardeners prefer topsoil that they can find themselves to cover low spots in the yard or choose organic addition to the existing lawn. Many experienced gardeners use specific types of topsoils for flower beds.

You might still wonder, is topsoil good for plants? If you want quick results, you can try healthy garden soil. It is costly but acts directly on the roots of plants you need, feeding them with organic nutrients.

Garden soil is widely used for:

  • flowers baskets and small limited areas with plants;
  • bed planters of the raised type;
  • ornamental plants and rose bushes;
  • flower beds, herbs, and small vegetable gardens.

Topsoil vs Garden Soil FAQ

hoes the garden soil

Although I have already clarified the question “what is top soil used for,” you might still have some questions left. Here is the list of the most popular questions asked by both professional gardeners and newbies around the world. I hope my answers will be helpful for you.

Is topsoil the same as garden soil?

No, in brief, topsoil is part of garden soil. While topsoil also contains organic components, it might not have all the specific nutrients your plants need. At the same time, garden soil contains multiple nutrients that feed flowers, so you don’t need to buy extra supplies.

Can I use top soil for a vegetable garden?

You can use topsoil for any garden. It is cheaper than garden soil and is usually sold in big bags so that you can cover a bigger area. Since topsoil also contains organics and elements that can feed vegetables, make sure you pick the right type of soil.

Is top soil good for gardening?

Top soil is widely used in gardening. Depending on its type, topsoil can grow your plants in no time. With the right option, you can skip adding nutrients during the first years. Check out the components inside the soil and the basic requirements of your garden. Make sure that your plants receive all the elements they need.

Pick the Best

If you can’t decide on the soil you need, try both of them. Don’t limit yourself to one type when you can easily buy a limited amount of garden soil for your flower beds and topsoil for the rest of your garden. Make sure that your plants get the proper nutrients for growth and pay attention to the quality of the soil you buy. If you have more recommendations, you can add them in the comments below. Which soil do you use for your flowers and veggies?

Bryan Mckenzie
Hi there — my name is Bryan McKenzie. Before I’d got into gardening, I worked as a landscape designer at landscape design and consultation company in Jacksonville. I enjoy sharing the vast gardening experience I’ve accumulated throughout the years with like-minded green thumbs. Read more about me and my wife.
Photo of author

Leave a Comment