Topsoil – What Should You Use?

3 min read

With so many choices out there, what kind of topsoil should you use? Many different companies claim to sell premium quality topsoil, but not all topsoil is the same. Not only is there a difference in quality, but the types vary between the best topsoil for grass or for landscaping.

Which topsoil is best suited to what you’re trying to grow? How do you find the provider offering the best value for money? Will the new soil be any better than your existing soil? You’ll soon be able to answer all these questions – using this guide to buying the right topsoil.

What is Screened Topsoil?

Screening topsoil is the process by which larger clods of soil, stones, roots and other matter are removed from the soil. Screening is done according to size (so soil screened to 1” will contain no lumps or objects more than 1” across), so the smaller the screening size, the finer the texture of the soil and the higher the price.

With this in mind, it only makes sense to pay for soil screened to the size you need. This varies depending on what the soil will be used for. For example, when laying turf, topsoil doesn’t need to be as finely screened as that used for topdressing lawns.

Screened topsoil is free from large stones, plant roots and other debris. As a rule of thumb, 20mm screened soil is just right for general landscaping.

Where Does Topsoil Come From?

When contacting a topsoil supplier, it is wise to check the source of their topsoil and to confirm that all of the topsoil you will be buying comes from the same source.

Many suppliers get their soil from building site excavations, which could be quite infertile. It will also vary between sites. For small quantities, this won’t pose much of an issue as all the topsoil is likely to have come from the same site. But for very large orders, or orders delivered over a longer period, you may end up with different soils leading to uneven fertility in your garden.

As well as affecting consistency, the source of topsoil will affect the soil’s quality and fertility. So, look for a supplier with the right product for your needs. The most fertile soil isn’t always the best, as wildflowers prefer poor-quality soil.

What Size Soil Bags are the Best?

bagged topsoil delivery

The final consideration you should mull over is how you want to have the topsoil delivered. The most common options are in sandbags, bulk bags (of 0.5 or 1 tonne) or loose.

A big builder’s portion of topsoil in a bag generally weights around 1 tonne. It will hold 0.8 cubic metres of soil. Measuring soil by volume is more helpful than by weight as wet soil is heavier than dry soil.

Having soil delivered loose is only practical for very large quantities and requires plants to move around. Therefore, sandbags or bulk bags are best for home gardens and the choice between the two is mostly down to how much soil is to be delivered. Ultimately, the best way to ensure you choose the right topsoil, is to buy from a reputable supplier.

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