What Is Topsoil & What Is It Used For?

Topsoil in a Trowel

Plenty of gardeners do not bother using topsoil for various reasons. In most cases, they think topsoil is the same as dirt or in general not beneficial, which is far from the truth. I used to think the same until a good friend of mine, who has been gardening for a long time, told me that topsoil brings a lot of advantages to both plants and soil.

This is why I considered using topsoil to see for myself if it really is beneficial to my plants and soil. Sure enough, the results were amazing! I can definitely say that it improves the quality of soil and boosts the growth of plants.

So, what makes topsoil so special? Along with the answer to this question, I will be showcasing you essential information about topsoil itself, its use, and advantages.

What Is Topsoil?

For starters, what actually is topsoil? Topsoil is commonly used as a soil amendment rather than using it as the main soil for your plants. Basically, it enhances your soil’s structure and the growth and development of your plants.

Topsoil can be considered a booster for your plants as well, but there is definitely more to it than just that. Topsoil is the soil that is beneath the organic soil that we step on. Topsoil is known to have the highest concentration when it comes to the composition of organic matter and microorganisms. Moreover, this is also the layer where biological activity is rampant.

Plants on the surface of the earth rely on topsoil for the distribution of nutrients, water, and organic matter. It is also worth noting that topsoil is easy to work with unlike other types of soil that are on the surface of the earth that are hard and compact.

Topsoil is mainly composed of organic matter, water, nutrients, minerals, air, and many more! So, you can expect to see amazing growth spurt results in your plants once you apply topsoil to them.


Layers of Topsoil Illustration
Image From: E-Agrovision

What Is The Difference Between Topsoil & Normal Soil?

If both ordinary soil and topsoil can be found on the surface of the earth, does it mean that they are highly similar? The answer to this is no. Depending on where you are located, topsoil may or may not be common to find. Furthermore, topsoil comes in different colors as well. There is reddish topsoil, beige topsoil, and other darker and lighter colors.

But regardless of the color, when it comes to its contribution, the results are very different. In fact, there are hardly any plants that thrive in dirt. Topsoil is basically incomparable to dirt, and it contains numerous organic matters that dirt does not have. These organic matters promote sustainability to the plant’s welfare.

Plant with Topsoil
Image From: Mendham Garden Center

Is Topsoil Necessary?

Topsoil is responsible for growing more than 90% of the food that is grown in the world. This makes topsoil one of the most essential sources in our food system. Moreover, without topsoil, Earth would be incapable of filtering water, absorbing carbon, and supplying the needs of nature. Without topsoil, our food; especially vegetables, would lack important vitamins, nutrients, and minerals as well.

Handful of Topsoil
Image From: Core Mini Bins

How To Use Topsoil

Like the trees and plants that grow in nature, you simply add topsoil to your main soil and give it enough time to work on its own while also giving it the maintenance that it needs (i.g water, sunlight, air, etc.).

Topsoil will also improve your soil’s drainage, which means this will prevent you from worrying about waterlogging.

If you are interested in more soil maintenance information and tips, feel free to check out the articles below!

Frequently Asked Questions About Topsoil

Below are commonly asked questions by curious gardeners that are interested in using topsoil, but are not just sure yet due to some questions. This section is great for you to gain additional information about topsoil.

Is It Okay To Use Topsoil On Potted Plants?

I as well have potted plants, but I do not recommend using topsoil as your main soil for potted plants. Topsoil depends on the main soil as well for it to provide the essential nutrients. Topsoil enables plants to spread their roots easily but in a pot setup, this will limit its spread, which is not good.

Purchase high-quality potting soil instead, or you can make your own potting mix but make sure to have the right ingredients for optimum effectiveness,

Is It Okay To Mix Topsoil With Compost?

Compost is another great soil amendment that promotes good health for your plants. However, compost can easily dry out. This is why I highly recommend mixing it with topsoil for balanced bedding for your plants.

This is a great mixture since topsoil offers an excellent stronghold for your plant’s roots with better water capacity while compost provides more nutrients.

How Much Compost Should I Mix with Topsoil?

I follow the general rule of thumb when it comes to applying topsoil to my main soil, which is 1/4 or 1/2 on top of my main soil. For soil blends, I estimate 30% of compost to the whole mix, but for large containers and garden-raised beds, I mitigate the compost to 25%.

How Much Topsoil Should Be In Garden Raised Beds?

The majority of plants will need at least 25 centimeters of topsoil. This amount is enough for the topsoil to do its work without overlaying the main soil, which means that the topsoil and main soil will have no complications, and instead work together to distribute the essential needs of your plants.

How Deep Is Topsoil?

Since topsoil is the outermost layer of the majority of Earth’s soil, it is typically located at the top with a height of up to about 5 to 15 inches.

Final Thoughts On Topsoil

Topsoil is generally good for most plants. In most cases, potting soil is commonly used in container setups or pots in general, whereas topsoil is primarily used in soil-based mixes. Topsoil is also known to be slightly heavier than normal potting mixes, but this makes up for the benefits it gives to your main soil and plants.

It improves drainage, supplies nutrients, improves soil structure, and many more advantages! I have been using topsoil for almost a year, and the difference back when I did not use it is very different. My plants are much healthier and grow quicker. I highly recommend using topsoil for your plants for overall good plant health.

If you have any questions or comments about topsoil, don’t hesitate to ask below. Happy gardening!

About Ador Flores

Greetings! My name is Ador Flores, and I have been in love with nature ever since I was young. I bet you can agree when I say that mother nature tends to astonish you as well. While I may not be able to create mountains, waterfalls, and other majestic landscapes in my backyard, one thing is that I can for sure mimic nature by having a beautiful garden at home. Just from this simple mindset, it did not take long for me to turn gardening into a passion - a passion that changed my life forever. With the experiences I have had with gardening throughout all these years, I can definitely assure you that gardening is for everyone and I would love to share with all of you guys how fulfilling it really is! With the help of Seasonal Preferences, let us all become better gardeners and continue to promote a green and clean environment!

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