Soil: The Truth Of The Matter

fill dirt vs topsoilNo matter what kind of gardening supplies you use when you’re working on landscaping, the truth is that soil is the key to good gardening results. You can find good soil for gardening at landscaping supply stores or at your local gardening centers. But if you’re looking for quality soil, you have to know what qualifies as quality.

Here are a few things you need to know:

The Truth About Soil
The truth is there’s no such thing as average soil, and it varies greatly from one type to another. Not only are there variations from state to state and country to country, but from one corner of a yard to another. Dig a hole about 18 inches deep and you’ll be able to examine your soil’s profile because within these inches is where your soil can change dramatically.

Fill Dirt vs Topsoil
Contrary to popular belief, fill dirt and topsoil are not the same. Topsoil and fill dirt are sold separately for a reason — they serve very different needs and functions. Fill dirt is composed of tough, non-moving aggregate like rocks, clay, and sand. It’s used primarily in construction projects. Topsoil, on the other hand, is used in gardening and landscaping projects. And that’s the whole truth of the fill dirt vs topsoil argument.

How To Tell Good Soil from Bad Soil
Soil is evaluated based on two basic features: fertility and texture. As we mentioned earlier, no two types of soil are exactly the same. To add to that, not all soil feels the same either. To test a soil by feeling, place a small amount your hand and wet it slightly. If it feels gritty, it likely has a high percentage of sand. If it feels like powder, it’s silt. And to top it all off, clay will feel slippery. If these things all feel about roughly equal in the soil, then it’s generally a sign that the soil is in good health. Dark soil is typically very fertile due to its high percentage of organic matter. How can you tell if a soil has a high percentage of organic matter? Smell it! If it smells fresh, earthy, and maintains its dark color, the soil is likely high in fertility. Bad soil can still be dark in color, but ultimately a sour or rotten smell will alert you to its inadequacies.

It’s that simple.

Healthy soil is important to a healthy garden, so you should make sure you’re a soil expert when you begin growing. With any luck, these trusty soil testing techniques will have you off to a great start.