Topsoil vs. Gardening Soil – Which One Is Right For Me?

Soil is one of the most important facets of any garden or landscaping regardless of climate or time of the year. Using the right type of soil is absolutely crucial to the success of any type of landscaping endeavor, and knowing the difference between types of soil is paramount.

Make sure all your hard work out in the toiling heat pays off and use the right type of soil for your project.


Topsoil is essentially the layer of soil that covers the outermost surface of the earth. It can range anywhere from five inches to a foot deep, depending on where you are located. Topsoil textures vary as well, but they are generally a combination of sand, silt and clay.

If you are gardening, you will want to avoid thicker topsoils that retain water very well – it’s true that all plants need water, but thicker topsoils will not allow for much air to reach the roots of the plant.

Topsoils with a loamy texture are great for gardening because they are easy to till and promote airflow.

You will typically see topsoil sold in larger quantities than gardening soil, and it is also more of an “all-purpose” soil as well.

Gardening Soil

Whereas topsoil is better suited for a wide range of projects, gardening soil usually fits more of a niche need, sometimes even plant-specific needs.

Gardening soil is a combination of a mixture of soils and textures that is designed to target a specific type of gardening project.

There are different mixes of gardening soil for herb gardens, vegetable gardens, flower gardens and more. This means that you need to do your research before purchasing large bags of gardening soil. As your local landscaping professional about the source of the soil to ensure it is the right mix for your particular project.

Which One Is Right For Me?

The right soil for your garden or landscaping needs completely depends on the specific project you are taking on.

Start by testing your existing soil to determine which nutrients your garden already has in abundance and which nutrients could use supplementing. This is very valuable information you can then use to shop around for a topsoil or gardening soil that will perfectly balance out your existing soil.

Gardening soils, especially larger quantities, can be very expensive depending on how specialized a variety you need. Topsoil is considered better “bulk” option and is probably better suited for larger scale projects.

Best of Both Worlds

You would be hard pressed to find a landscaping expert that would recommend that you completely replace all the existing soil in your yard or garden. Consider topsoil and garden soil worthwhile additions to your gardening and landscaping efforts rather than replacements. Make sure you thoroughly till your existing soil before and after you add in the new soil – you want the old and new soil to assimilate as quickly as possible.

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