Used to make new beds and borders or as a base for lawns, topsoil is a nutrient-rich soil that can provide the foundation for a healthy garden. Available to buy in bags or in bulk, it improves the growing conditions for plants, vegetables, and grass where the natural soil is of poor quality.
What Is Topsoil?
Topsoil is the top layer of earth that is typically two to eight inches in depth. It is formed when rocks, leaves, and other organic matter decay over time, breaking down into small particles. This process is very slow – it can take hundreds of years for one inch of topsoil to be formed. As a result of this process, topsoil is rich in the natural nutrients and minerals that plants need to grow.
What Do I Use Topsoil For?
Topsoil is used where the existing soil is of poor quality, which is often the case in new build homes where the natural topsoil has been removed during development. It can also be used where there is no natural soil, like in a courtyard garden where you are creating raised beds.
As well as being used in beds and borders, topsoil can also provide a base when laying turf or sowing grass seed to ensure a green and healthy lawn. It is used when growing fruit and vegetables too, whether at home or at an allotment.
What Is the Best Topsoil?
When buying topsoil, you may notice there are two main types – screened and unscreened. Screened topsoil has been processed to filter out any stones, sticks, roots, and other chunks of matter to ensure the soil is free of debris. You can add any nutrients specific to the needs of the plants you wish to grow.
Another type of topsoil to look out for is certified topsoil. This soil is lab tested to ensure it is free of disease or metals.
Why Is Topsoil Rich in Nutrients?
Over the course of many years, topsoil is formed by the breakdown of organic matter, including rocks, leaves, and dead insects. As the uppermost layer of earth, topsoil is exposed to lots of decaying matter, which in turn increases the amount of nutrients in the soil, including nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus – all essential for healthy plant growth. The darker the topsoil, the more organic matter it contains, and therefore more nutrients.
Is Topsoil the Same As Garden Soil?
The soil found in the garden will contain a layer of topsoil, but often this has been damaged or removed over time, or isn’t a good quality topsoil.
Topsoil sits above a layer of earth called subsoil, which contains less organic matter and is generally rockier and sandier. If the natural layer of topsoil is missing, it can be difficult to grow plants, vegetables, or a healthy lawn, as there won’t be the nutrients they need to thrive.
That’s why topsoil is often added to both new and existing beds and borders to improve the quality of the garden soil and create more favourable growing conditions.
Is Topsoil the Same As Compost?
Although topsoil and compost both contain nutrients and are used around the garden, they aren’t the same material. While compost is dryer and softer than topsoil and suitable for growing in pots and troughs, topsoil retains more water and provides more structure, which makes it better for laying turf, filling in large beds or borders, or levelling off an uneven bit of garden.
Mixing compost with topsoil will prevent the compost drying out as quickly and is a clever trick for providing potted plants and flowers with a more balanced soil. The topsoil will ensure roots are well-supported and have sufficient water, while the compost will provide added nutrients for healthy growth. The bedding soil available at most nurseries and garden centres will be a mix of compost and topsoil for this reason.
Some suppliers, including Grabloader, also provide a topsoil that is mixed with soil conditioner, which offers added nutrients and can help balance the quality of the soil – great for growing healthy produce on an allotment or vegetable plot.
Is Topsoil Animal Safe?
Topsoil is safe for pet-owners to use in the garden but animals should be discouraged from ingesting topsoil.
What Depth of Topsoil Do I Need for Turf?
New turf should ideally be laid on good quality topsoil that is at least six inches deep. If the existing topsoil in the garden is too shallow or of poor quality, it will need to be topped up with additional topsoil before the turf is laid.
What Does Topsoil Do For a Lawn?
Seeding a lawn or laying turf on a layer of topsoil will result in green, healthy grass that looks great. Topsoil gives the grass the nutrients it needs to grow while providing support and water for the roots. It also allows rainwater to be soaked up and filtered away, preventing soggy patches or flooding.
Why is Topsoil Important in Gardening?
Often, the natural topsoil in a garden has been damaged or removed over time. This can happen when a garden has been established for many years, or in the garden of a new build home where the topsoil has been removed during construction. That’s why additional topsoil is often needed to grow a healthy garden, as the natural topsoil is either missing or not of good enough quality for plants and grass to thrive.
Topsoil is also important when creating new beds and borders, as these areas need nutrient-rich soil to provide a healthy home for plants, flowers, and vegetables.
How Much Topsoil Do I Need for My Garden Project?
Topsoil is generally available in ready-filled bags or loose in bulk. Loose topsoil is sold by the tonne.
Get a Quote for Topsoil
Grabloader is one of the largest suppliers of certified topsoil in Berkshire, so whether you are laying a new lawn or planting beds and borders, call 0118 988 4142 to receive a free quotation. We will be happy to recommend the right topsoil for your project and also offer local delivery for added convenience.