Dishing the Dirt about Dirt: What You Need to Know About Landscaping Soil

Landscaping Soil with a garden trowel

Whether you’re planting flowers and vegetables, filling in holes in your property or growing grass, you need one thing: dirt.

But not all dirt is created equally. The dirt you use to fill in holes is a lot different than the rich topsoil you’d need for salad-worthy tomatoes.

In this blog post, we’ll answer some of the common questions you might have about soil for your lawn and garden or landscaping soil.

What does soil do for my yard?

Soil provides a number of different benefits to your landscape and garden, including:

  • It’s a prime water source for your plants
  • It acts like a filter for groundwater and protects against pollutants
  • It keeps carbon out of the atmosphere
  • It serves as a habitat for earthworms and bacteria, which turn waste into the nutrients your plants need to thrive

What is topsoil?

As you might have guessed from the name, topsoil is the top layer of your soil, making up the first five to 12 inches of dirt. This is the layer you’ll be working with when you plant seeds.

Below the topsoil is the subsoil, which is usually very hard packed earth or clay, neither of which lend themselves to healthy plant growth.

Topsoil contains substantial concentrations of organic matter and microorganisms. As plants die off and decay, the nutrients within return to the soil, helping new plants begin to grow. Healthy topsoil can also help prevent weeds and pests.

We sell two varieties of topsoil, standard and premium. Standard topsoil is a screened version of the dirt you’d find in your yard, and good for normal planting such as growing grass or leveling out the grade of your property.

Premium topsoil is screened and enriched – you might see it referred to as “enriched topsoil” – and designed for plants that need an extra level of nurturing, or to help grass grow over rocky soil.

Keep in mind that not all topsoil is the same wherever you go. Some versions will contain sand, bits of rock or manure. Be sure to consult with a landscaping soil supplier to determine what’s in the soil you’re purchasing before you add it to your lawn or garden.

Is topsoil different from compost?

While both compost and topsoil contain organic materials, they aren’t interchangeable. Compost – sometimes called mushroom soil – is created from decomposing plant and animal matter, broken down by bacteria and fungi in the air. Compost can’t replace topsoil. Rather, it will enhance your soil and give it more organic matter.

How much topsoil does my garden require?

Even the healthiest gardens need topsoil to stay healthy. Giving your plants a fresh dose of nutrients every year lets them stay strong.

Putting down five to eight inches of topsoil will usually be enough to get your garden started. However, topsoil isn’t designed to blanket your entire garden or yard. It should complement your existing soil, not replace it.

What is clean fill?

You’ve probably seen the signs when you’re out driving around: “Clean fill wanted.”

But what is clean fill?

Clean fill is simply dirt that contains no contaminants. Often made of subsoil, clean fill might contain sand, gravel, stones or clay. Clean will not include glass, metals, plastics or anything that could be considered a contaminant.

If you aren’t certain which type of landscaping soil is right for your next lawn and garden project, visit Woodward Landscape Supply.

We carry a range of different landscaping soil, including standard and premium topsoil, screened dirt, fill dirt and clean fill and mushroom soil, which is a type of compost.

Woodward also has the expertise you’ll need to make sure you’re using the right dirt the right way. Contact us to find out how we can assist you with your next landscaping project.

One thought on “Dishing the Dirt about Dirt: What You Need to Know About Landscaping Soil

  1. Eli Richardson

    It’s great that you talked about the importance of working with the right soil for our garden. Recently, my wife and I moved into another home, and it came with a large backyard space. My wife wants to start a gardening project, so I think this article could help her out. Thanks for the information on the role of soil in landscaping projects.


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