Topsoil vs. Potting Soil


When choosing the type of soil for their plants and flowers, many lawn owners are unable to differentiate between topsoil and potting soil. Contrary to popular belief, topsoil and potting soil are not the same.

Soil selection is an important decision. The type of soil used can affect plant growth and their ability to survive the rigors of weather. It is important that you choose the right type of soil for your plants to ensure they thrive. When choosing between topsoil and potting soil, some factors to consider are the type of plants you want to grow, and its location.

What is Topsoil? 

As the name implies, topsoil is the topmost layer of soil. It is usually scraped from weedy fields. Depending on the location from which it is sourced, topsoil may have sand and clay, river silt or even weeds in it.

When buying topsoil, it is important that you inquire about its composition. Many experts recommend a quick soil test to determine if the soil has the nutrients required to support plant growth.

Where is it Used?

Irrespective of its composition, topsoil generally provides a solid base for a garden, raised bed or container. Many gardeners add compost and well-decomposed manure to topsoil before laying it on top of fills or soil.

Do not add gravel, sand or clay to topsoil as they can harden topsoil and it can turn into a concrete-like mass when it dries up.

What is Potting Soil?

Potting soil is premixed. As the name suggests, it is used for plants that are grown in containers. Potting soil ingredients vary depending on the manufacturer and intended application.

Some common ingredients of potting soil include peat moss, compost and perlite.

Some manufacturers add fertilizers and wetting agents to their potting soils, and that works well with specific plant types. When buying potting soil, read the label to find out if it has the necessary nutrients that the plants in your garden need.

Some types of potting soils include:

  • All-purpose potting soil: An all-purpose potting soil is used for one season to grow flowers or vegetables in a container bed. To ensure a good harvest and encourage flowering, many gardeners prefer water-soluble fertilizers
  • Orchid mix: An orchid mix is a well-aerated mix. It does not break down easily, which makes it suitable for orchids. The best orchid mixes have a chunky consistency similar to the consistency of soils found in natural environments. Some common ingredients of orchid mixes include coconut husk, perlite, vermiculite and peat moss
  • Seed starting mix: It is a quick-draining, lightweight, sterile potting mix. It is used for growing plants from seeds. It contains additional vermiculite or perlite to help tiny, undeveloped roots extend into the mix

Need topsoil delivered near you in Vallejo? Bayshore Materials has got you covered? Bayshore Materials offers a wide variety of landscaping products under one roof. To inquire about our inventory, call (707)-644-0859.