5 Things To Know When Buying Topsoil

Topsoil is an unsung hero in the home landscape, as it provides the base for healthy plant growth and moisture retention. You may need to lay down additional topsoil when putting in a new yard or garden area, so it's important to know what to look for.

1. Weed-Seed Free

The last thing you want to do is introduce weed seeds into your yard when you are simply trying to improve the soil. Quality topsoil should be labeled as free of weed seeds. This is typically achieved by using heat to kill any seeds in the soil before it's sold, typically through a heat sterilization or hot composting method. Topsoil that isn't sold as free of seeds can introduce many unwanted weeds into the garden.

2. Contaminant Concerns

Lots of things can contaminate topsoil, and many of them are obvious. Large stones, old roots, and non-organic debris should never be found in good-quality topsoil. Your soil provider should also be able to inform you if there is a possibility of any chemical contaminants, such as pesticide residue, present as well. Some providers sell organic topsoil, which will be free of any contaminant that is not considered organic by current guidelines. 

3. Overall Texture

Soil texture is important. Topsoil texture should be crumbly and slightly spongy so that it can obviously retain some moisture. When damp topsoil is squeezed into a ball, it will ideally hold its shape until dropped. If it immediately falls apart it doesn't contain enough organic matter. If the ball stays pretty much intact upon dropping, it may have too much clay. Both situations are less than ideal.

4. Soil Analysis

Knowing the nutrient profile of your soil is important, as many plants can be quite specific in their soil needs. Many topsoil providers will provide a full analysis of the soil, which will inform you of the soil pH level (acidity), as well as the presence of key plant nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen. When ordering soil, you can request the analysis data sheet and review it before making a final decision. 

5. Harvest Location

Consider where the topsoil is coming from. Ideally, it is harvested locally, as shipping in soil from far away could result in bringing in invasive weed seeds or pathogens from outside your local area. Further, local topsoil is more likely to contain beneficial microbes that have evolved to aid growing conditions in your local area, which can result in better plant growth.

Contact a topsoil provider such as Templeton Gap Turf Farm LLC if you are ready to build up the soil quality in your landscaping.