Knowledge from Olle Garden Bed: What's the Difference Between Top soil and Garden Soil

Many gardeners often confuse topsoil with garden soil. After all, they all look and feel the same. However, they differ in many ways, from their composition to their use and availability. As we all know, the key to a prosperous garden is soil. Gardeners can use a variety of soils. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

Clay, sand and loam are the main soil types. In any yard, the soil will contain a combination of the three. So where do topsoil and garden soil come from? In order to help you understand the differences between them, we have organized this guide so that you can understand what needs to be used for healthy plant growth.

raised garden bed

Topsoil and garden soil: how are they defined?

What is topsoil?

Topsoil is the top layer of the earth's surface, about eight centimeters deep. However, in some places, the depth may be between 0.5 and 1 meter! It is easy to obtain, so the price is low, especially for bulk purchase.

Topsoil is composed of clay, organic matter, sand and silt, also known as humus. Although this is its usual composition, it may vary depending on the collection location. In other words, not all topsoil is productive for plant growth and health, because the proportion of soil and organic matter in its components may be poor.

You know what?

Many gardeners think that topsoil and black soil are the same, but in fact, they are not the same! Although the topsoil is the upper layer of the soil structure, black dirt gets its color from iron and other chemicals that may exist. In some cases, this black soil is produced after the marshland is drained.

Although topsoil and black mud are very suitable for gardens, they are not always interchangeable. Therefore, if you determine that topsoil is needed, you need to ensure that the products you pick are actually topsoil. More often, black dirt can be used as topsoil.

What is garden soil?

Garden soil is the soil supplemented with organic materials, soil improvement products and fertilizers to optimize plant growth. These improved products include straw, straw, bio solids, pea gravel and perlite.

Garden soil itself is not a good growth medium, because it lacks the nutrients required for plants to thrive. When used alone, the garden soil is poorly drained and aerated, leading to premature death of plants. It is recommended to farm the garden soil on the natural ground.

You can also make garden soil to meet the needs of plants.

You know what?

Garden soil is often confused with potted soil, but they are not the same. Potted soil may or may not contain any soil at all! It usually contains perlite, peat moss, bark, etc.

In other words, potted soil and garden soil are the growth media of plants. Although garden soil is an ideal choice for outdoor planting, pot soil is most suitable for container plants. They are not interchangeable.

Topsoil and garden soil: what's the difference?

Since one soil is produced by another, and both can be used in your garden, they seem to be the same soil, but the difference lies in the details.


Topsoil: This layer of soil is collected from the top layer of the earth's surface. It is a mixture of slowly weathered rocks and organic matter, which has been decomposed for a long time. This organic material is called chickpea puree and is usually a nutrient rich mixture of dead plants, leaves and insects.

Garden soil: A mixture of topsoil and inorganic substances. It requires the increase of soil amendments and nutrients to make it a good growth medium for plants.


Topsoil: It can be used for large-scale industrial projects, laying turf, decorating lawn, or building garden beds and supporting plant growth.

Garden soil: It can be used for laying garden beds, and is very suitable for raising garden beds.

There are three grades of topsoil; Economy, Universal and Premium.

Economic topsoil is cheaper and used for large industrial projects.

Universal topsoil is available in a wide range of grades and sizes and is versatile.

High quality topsoil is expensive because it is unlikely to contain weed seeds. It is also a high-quality loam, which is very suitable for building garden beds and supporting plant growth.

raised garden beds

Ideal use of garden soil and topsoil

  1. Raised garden beds

Raised garden beds are easier to plant, manage and harvest than underground beds. In other words, you need a lot of soil to build an elevated bed!

One 3 ร— A bed of 6 requires at least 9 cubic feet or 20 quarts of soil bags. This is why topsoil is ideal for filling raised garden beds, as it is sold in bulk at a reasonable price. Although the soil may lack nutrients, you can supplement it with compost, rock or dung at any time to make up for the lack of structure and nutritional value.

  1. Container gardening

Improved garden soil should be used for container gardening, as it is usually small-scale and suitable for niche plants. One of the most common container gardening mistakes is using garden soil alone. When used alone, garden soil can cause premature plant death because it provides poor ventilation and drainage.

If you cannot find potted soil and must use garden soil, mix one portion of garden soil with one portion of peat and one portion of perlite. Use this improved garden soil mixture in a container.

  1. Landscaping

Landscaping is mostly a large-scale project, and attention should be paid to details to prevent common mistakes in landscaping. In addition, it needs a lot of soil. Due to greater structural and quantitative differences, garden soil may be more difficult to mix with your existing soil.

However, naturally occurring topsoil can be mixed in large quantities and can be modified with compost or manure later in the design process.

  1. Basket

Because of poor drainage, the plants in the basket are more vulnerable to pests and infectious diseases. Topsoil and garden soil are too heavy for these plants.

The best soil for the basket is a light potted mixture made of peat moss, perlite or coconut fiber.

  1. Lawn

Contrary to popular belief, grass can thrive in many types of soil. Grass growing in sandy soil has effective drainage capacity, which can make water reach the base faster. The structure of clays enables them to retain water for a long time, and silty soils, which are finer than sandy soils, also drain water quickly.

Although the combination of these soils, called loam, is the best choice for lawn, as long as the topsoil has nutrients and is properly aerated, you can use the topsoil.

  1. Characteristic garden

Featured or niche gardens are a creative way to customize landscapes, sometimes working with your climate to bring out the best native plants and animals.

Pollinator gardens, perennial or annual gardens, as well as international and local fruit, vegetable and herbal gardens, are several categories to choose from.

The same is true of garden soils where expertise plays a role. They are premixed with all the nutrients and characteristics that a niche garden needs to thrive.

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Which one to choose?

Ultimately, both topsoil and garden soil play an important role in your garden. Topsoil is in a leading position in terms of practicality. It is rich and widely used, and can lay a foundation for gardens. The garden soil treatment gives the garden a distinctive aspect. From ensuring the health of flowers and shrubs to the growth of juicy fruits, niche gardening is its specialty.