Difference Between Garden Soil And Top Soil

Plants need soil, moisture, and air to thrive. Therefore, soil plays a huge role in promoting healthy plant growth. However, it is crucial to use the right soil type to grow your lawn that is if you are not using Aerogrow garden system. Thus, take time to understand the different types of soil available.

Some of the two major categories of soil are garden soil and topsoil. In this article, let’s look at the difference between garden soil and topsoil.

Topsoil vs. Garden Soil

As the name suggests, topsoil is the outermost layer of the soil. Topsoil is usually five inches to one foot deep. However, this depends on your geographical area. The topsoil of each soil type varies in texture. It is always advisable to use thinner topsoil with excellent water retention properties when it comes to planting.

Growing plants on thicker topsoil prevent proper circulation of air into the roots. The best topsoil often comes from loamy soil; it promotes proper aeration and is simple to till. Topsoil is usually sold in large quantities and is usually considered an ‘all-purpose’ soil.

On the flip side, gardening soil is specifically designed for gardening or planting in containers. This soil is a blend of different soil types and often targets a particular type of gardening project. There is a wide variety of gardening soil mixes.

Each mix is uniquely designed for different gardens. For instance, there is a soil mix for vegetable gardens and herb gardens. So, before purchasing gardening soil, analyze your requirements. Then, make sure you have the right mix for your project.

Which is better? Garden soil or topsoil?

Both garden soil and topsoil offer different benefits. Your best soil option usually depends on your plant requirements. Always begin by conducting a thorough soil examination. This way, you’ll be able to determine the nutrients lacking in your soil. From there, it will be much easier to determine whether you need to use topsoil or garden soil.

It is important to note that garden soil is very costly. The price, however, often relies on the type of garden soil mix. Topsoil works well for large farms and small gardens.

Getting the best from both worlds

The best thing about garden soil and topsoil is that they can be used in sync. Gardening experts usually advise that you consider using both soils. They provide unique benefits to your garden. However, you need to till the soil before and after adding any soil type to your garden. Doing this will help the old soil and the new soil to blend easily.

Common Types Soil

At present, there are different types of soil—each offers different functionality. Therefore, identifying and understanding each soil type helps you choose the best soil for growing your plants. Below, we discuss the different soil types available at an in-depth level.

Clay Soil:

Clay soil is popularly known for its bulky nature. Clay soil is relatively difficult to work with when it comes to planting. But you can constantly improve its texture using organic compost and fertilizers.

Clay soil is usually red-brown and feels sticky when wet. When clay soil is dry, it is heavy and can be hard to turn. Although this soil does not have the best drainage and retention properties, it is sometimes used to grow lawns. One of the main advantages of clay soil is that it contains high nutritional content.

This is because clay soil can hold nutrients for an extended period. So, when you maintain clay soil properly, it becomes fertile. The secret is usually letting organic material decompose into the soil. Organic compost significantly boosts the soil’s water retention.

During rainy seasons, clay soils have a hard time draining soil. As a result, the soil becomes waterlogged and makes it hard for the plant’s root system to obtain sufficient air.

On the other hand, clay soil fails to mix with water during the dry season. Subsequently, water does not get to the root system of the plant. Luckily, you can restore this situation by adding peat moss, sand, and quality topsoil.

Sandy Soil:

Naturally, sandy soils are loose and dry when you touch them. When wet, sandy soil can easily crumble through your fingers. Sandy soil particles have large spaces in between. Sandy soil cannot retain water for long periods due to the large particles.

Likewise, sandy soil cannot retain nutrients. If you grow your lawn in sandy soil, you would have to apply lots of fertilizers and water frequently. Even so, sandy soil is quite simple to till since it moves quickly.

It also warms up fast, especially during spring. Furthermore, you can improve the quality of your sandy soil by adding organic compost and quality topsoil. Nonetheless, note that it might take some time before you finally change the texture of sandy soil.

Silt Soil:

Silt soil is not such bad soil for promoting healthy grass growth, especially if you add peat moss and quality topsoil. This soil resembles sand soil but has smaller particles.

Rolling wet silt soil between your fingers will leave some particles stuck on your hand. Therefore, silt soil has better retention and drainage compared to sandy soils. One of the main disadvantages of silt soil is that it can easily get eroded by wind and heavy rains. It would be best to mix silt soil with organic compost to improve quality.

Chalk Soil:

Another type of soil is chalk soil. Chalk soil is quite challenging to deal with due to its rocky nature. Chalk soils usually have an underneath layer of limestone or chalk. Therefore, it is rare for plants to thrive on chalk soil.

Since they have a rocky structure, chalk soil contains large spaces in between their particles. Thus, they have poor water retention and drainage properties. Also, they are alkaline; hence they can prevent healthy and robust root growth.

Chalk soils can also lead to chlorosis, which is the yellowing of leaves. All in all, avoid using chalk soil as your planting soil.

Peat Soil:

This soil is a unique blend of decomposed animal and plant material. Peat soil is rich in nutrients and has a dark brown to black color. This soil feels soft to the touch and contains a lot of water. Peat soil has a low pH. Thus, it can lower the nutrients present in the soil. However, you can keep it in good condition by applying fertilizer now and then.

Nevertheless, peat soil has good water retention properties. However, it would be best if you aerated it to prevent the soil from becoming soggy. In addition, you can improve the quality of peat soil by adding various soil conditioners like humic acid. Doing this will improve the quality of peat soil and promote a robust root system.

Loam Soil:

Generally, loam soil is the best soil for planting. Typically, loam soil is a mixture of silt, sand, and clay soils. Thus, they are rich in nutrients. In addition, loam soil is dark brown and feels moist to the touch.

Sand, silt, and clay soil often complement each other to form the perfect planting soil. Although loam soil is rich in nutrients, you still have to take care of it at all times.

Ensure you use the right fertilizers and organic compost to enrich the soil. As a gardener, you have to boost the efficiency of loamy soil constantly. This way, you’ll grow healthy and robust plants.

Garden soil and topsoil – which one wins?

Both garden soil and topsoil offer a wide range of benefits when planting. The type of soil you choose often depends on your requirements. Garden soil is specially designed for gardening and comes in a broad spectrum of mixes.

On the other hand, topsoil refers to the outermost layer of the soil. For best results, gardening experts often advise mixing these two soil types when growing your plants.

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