Lawn Soil Vs Topsoil: Which is Right for Your Yard?


Want to spruce up your backyard? Consider adding lawn soil or topsoil to it. Contrary to popular belief, lawn soil, and topsoil are not one and the same. Lawn soil comprises rocks, clay, dirt, and stones, whereas topsoil is composed of loose dirt, sand, microbes, and other organic materials.

Lawn Soil vs Topsoil: The Basics

Lawn soil is denser and more compact than topsoil, however, topsoil is better able to absorb nutrients. Grass seeds germinate more readily in topsoil than in lawn soil as the delicate young seedlings require the soft texture of topsoil for growth.

Topsoil is less compact than lawn soil. The airy consistency of topsoil allows it to pass through the mesh gate of soil spreaders. In contrast, the thick texture and stones in lawn soil prevent it from going through spreaders. Also, it’s probably too heavy for many spreaders to handle.

Lawn soil can become compacted easily, however, because lawn soil is dense it can help prevent erosion. Topsoil is loose and nutrient-rich. Sand and other ingredients of topsoil can help with water retention. The right topsoil for your garden can promote healthy plant growth and make your landscape more visually appealing.

When to use Lawn Soil?

Lawn soil is compact. It isn’t the ideal soil for fostering turf or cover top growth. You can use lawn soil when leveling off your property or to create a new landscape from scratch.

Leveling off Property

When building a home or business on an empty plot, you might have to make some adjustments to the soil. If the ground is uneven or the land has large drop-offs, erosion could occur at a faster rate, potentially damaging both your plants and the property’s foundation. Since topsoil is loose and, as the name suggests, typically tops off existing soil, it’s not the ideal choice if you want to level your property. Consider using lawn soil to create a more robust foundation instead.

Creating new Landscapes

If you want to redo your landscape, create new growth zones, or have recently removed large trees in your garden and want to fill the holes left behind by their root systems, use lawn soil. Because lawn soil is dense, you need not wait for the surface to become compacted so it’s suitable for walking, building, and planting.

When to use Topsoil?

There are several benefits of topsoil. It has the highest concentration of organic matter and can help create a nutrient-rich environment necessary for healthy plant growth.

Garden centers, nurseries, and home improvement stores sell topsoil. It’s a huge hassle transporting topsoil from a garden center to your home. Also, you may have to make multiple rounds to transport bagged topsoil to your home. Look for a store that offers topsoil delivery near you in Vallejo and can save you the hassle of transporting topsoil on your own.

Here are some uses of topsoil.

Planting Turfs and Gardens

While lawn soil provides a solid foundation for grassroots, it’s the nutrient-rich topsoil that truly fosters grass growth. You will also want to use topsoil when creating garden meadows and garden beds. Often, an alkaline topsoil is desired, though the ideal pH will depend on the plants you aim to grow. Topsoil can be easily tailored to suit your plants’ needs.

Amending Nutrient-low Soil

If your garden has become a shadow of its former self, it’s probably time to amend your soil so it can retain more nutrients. In addition to improving soil quality and helping ensure that plants get essential nutrients, soil amendment aids in rectifying pH levels of soil that has become overly acidic or alkaline. Using a rake or a three-pronged cultivator, loosen the top layers of your soil. Next, add topsoil, and distribute it uniformly. Gently water the region and keep taking care of your garden as usual.

Before Mulching

If you have ignored landscape maintenance for quite some time or want to build a new landscape, it’s important to create the right soil layers for optimum plant growth. If your topsoil is intact, there’s no need to add more topsoil before applying mulch, as doing so might stimulate undesired growth. If, however, you’re starting from scratch, it’s advisable to establish a nourishing layer of topsoil for plants to thrive in, followed by a finishing layer of mulch.

Remember, while mulch, similar to compost, can improve soil quality over time, plants can’t grow in it. Mulch, however, has several benefits. It can help your soil retain more water, prevent weed growth, regulate soil temperature, and improve soil health and structure.

While Composting

Compost is an organic material that has broken down and become a nutrient-rich, soil-like substance. You can create your own compost at home, or buy pre-made, ready-to-use compost from a garden center. Compost improves soil quality, promotes healthy plant growth, conserves water, and reduces soil erosion.

Because the compost mixture compacts easily and lacks soil, avoid growing plants in compost alone. Also, compost can dry out quickly and nutrients in it may fail to amend the soil. To ensure all the benefits of compost are available to your plants, mix it with equal parts topsoil.

Deciding Between Lawn Soil and Topsoil

Before choosing between topsoil and lawn soil, conduct a soil test to find out which nutrients your soil is missing and its pH. Consider your budget. A good rule of thumb is that the higher the quality of lawn soil, the more expensive it is. Quality topsoil is usually more affordable than lawn soil of the same quality. If you have a big garden and soil tests reveal that your soil lacks some nutrients that lawn soil contains, consider adding a mix of lawn soil and topsoil to keep costs down.

Bayshore Materials carries a wide selection of landscaping masonry and concrete products. Whether you want to build a patio or a garden walkway, we have the right products for your project. To learn more, call 707-644-0859.