Top Soil, Compost, Garden Soil or Potting Soil?
Purpose and Composition
Top soil is most commonly used as a top dressing to lawn areas, for establishing a new lawn or patching an existing lawn. Topsoil is usually earth taken from construction projects and put through a screening process to remove debris larger than ½” or ¾”. Not usually nutrient packed, top soil alone doesn’t make for a bountiful harvest.
Compost is the result of the natural breakdown of organic matter such leaves, grass and vegetable waste. Rich in nutrients, compost is a great soil amendment. And great soil leads to healthy and productive crops of flowers and vegetables.
Garden Soil is a combination of Top Soil and Compost. Mixing them together to produce the right balance of nutrients and creating the perfect constancy to start planting.
Potting soil is used in containers mostly to grow flowers and vegetables. It is a light weight mixture of peat, perlite, fertilizer, and sometimes bark. Most of your commercial potting soils are sterilized to reduce the spread of weeds and other unwanted materials.
What to use and where to use it.
Established lawns –TOP SOIL - You have a lawn that just needs a little boost to keep the roots happy and healthy. Apply a thin layer of compost in the spring during your clean up. This will allow the nutrients to work into the soil and in turn feed your lawn.
New lawns – Expanding your lawn area or need to establish a new lawn you will need to first add a layer of topsoil. 3 to 4 inches is the minimum depth you should use. If you are looking to give your new lawn a boost, mix in compost to the top soil and then seed.
Container Garden – POTTING SOIL - There are many benefits of doing your planting in containers. They are easy to weed (if you even need to) and clean up is a breeze. To make sure your plants roots are going to like where they live you should use potting soil. Potting soil allows for proper drainage and doesn’t hold to much moisture.
Raised Garden – GARDEN MIX - No matter why you have decided to install raised beds you should first know that this is your opportunity to create the best home for all your plants roots. Using a 50/50 mix of compost and top soil or Garden mix will make your plants roots happy and want to perform for you.
Vegetable Garden –COMPOST - “Working the soil “is exactly that, you working the soil into a masterpiece of equal parts sweat, compost and established earth. Depending on your area a rototiller (rented or purchased) is a back saving investment. You will want to use a good amount of compost to break up the soil. Amounts are dependent on area, of course.
Ornamental Planting Beds – COMPOST- Whether you are creating a new planting bed or you have one (or more) established adding a healthy layer of compost around the base of the root systems on top of the top soil. It will work as a slow release fertilizer and feed the soil which will feed your roots.