Everything You Need to Know About Buying Topsoil

Let’s talk topsoil for a moment. It’s the unsung hero of our gardens, but how much do you really know about topsoil and its uses? We’ll take a look at what you need to consider to ensure you buy the right topsoil for purpose.

What is Topsoil?

Topsoil is the top most layer of soil. It’s very useful for adding to new flower beds, putting down before laying turf, or filling big holes.

Some grades of topsoil are full of nutrients to support plant growth, while others are more suited to industrial uses.

What to Consider

There are three grades of topsoil available to purchase: economy, general purpose and premium. Let’s have a look at all three and find out the best uses for each grade.

Economy Topsoil

The cheapest option is economy topsoil. This grade of topsoil will not have been processed at all and will not contain many, if any, nutrients. This type of topsoil is suitable for filling large holes; used in situations where quantity is needed over quality. Economy topsoil can be deficient in organic matter and contain high levels of zootoxins (poisons produced by animals) and phytotoxins (poisons produced by plants), weed seeds and roots, so it’s not ideal for using for plants, vegetables or laying turf on.

General Purpose Topsoil

General purpose topsoil will usually be rich enough in nutrients for plant growth, but may contain lumps and gravel.

This soil is sometimes available in different screen sizes, however at Eco, our general purpose topsoil is available in 15-20mm screen size which is a little too course to use directly under turf, as it can leave lumps and lead to complaints down the line.

Premium Grade Topsoil

Premium grade topsoil is the best quality available. It will be free from weeds, biotoxins, twigs and gravel. Premium topsoil will be high in nutrients and is sometimes deliberately enriched. This type of topsoil is perfect for anything which needs help to establish, such as seeds, turf and even growing flowers for shows. Some plant nurseries use this grade of topsoil for potting their plants rather than compost (so it must be good!).

At Eco, our premium topsoil is 10mm, this is the screen size of topsoil which is recommended for laying turf on, since it’s finer and less lumpy than the general purpose topsoil. Using this grade of topsoil for laying your turf on will result in healthy, well rooted turf (provided the lawn is properly cared for once laid), which isn’t lumpy and bumpy underfoot.

Tips for Buying

1. Know Your Needs

Before you go shopping for your topsoil, you need to know which grade you need. To know this, you need to know what you’re using the topsoil for. If you are filling large holes (maybe you want to fill in an old pond) you can opt for economy topsoil. If you are laying turf, or you are a keen gardener opt for premium topsoil.

2. Inspect the Topsoil

The RHS suggest you should inspect your topsoil before you buy it. A good supplier will be able to send you sample on request and be able to answer simple questions about their products, such as the source of their topsoil.

3. Know the Standards

The British Standard for soil is BS:3882: 2015. If you see this on a product you can buy with confidence.

There is also a PAS100 standard for composted materials which is another key standard you can look for to enable you to buy with confidence.

At Eco we supply samples of topsoil on request and we will provide a copy of our test analysis upon request. We can also answer your questions about our products.