Improving Topsoil

The activities involved with construction remove, bury or damage soil, and it may seem that adding new soil is the only way to create a landscape and garden, but with today's methods it's easier and less expensive to improve the existing soil than to invest in new topsoil.

A poor soil, for instance one damaged by construction, can be improved by mixing in organic matter. This can be accomplished by applying one to three-inch layer of compost, and mixing this compost in with the existing soil.

If it proves necessary to add new topsoil, evaluate the soil quality before buying it. The most important soil qualities to consider are: the soil texture, the organic matter content of the soil, the pH of the soil, and the soluble salts in the soil. Naturally occurring topsoils vary broadly in quality.

There is no one official or legal definition for "topsoil". Practically, topsoil can be considered the top six to ten inches of soil, or the soil down to the depth exposed by plowing or through cultivation.

Topsoil usually differs from the underlying soil by having a higher organic matter content, a darker color, better tillage possibilities, and a higher biological activity. This includes earthworms, bacteria, and fungi. Topsoil is less compact than the underlying subsoil and thus facilitates plant growth.

Testing the soil is the most reliable way to evaluate its quality. If the soil has low fertility levels, fertilizers can be applied as needed. It is however not easy to improve a soil which has undesirable physical properties.

The physical condition of a soil depends on the texture of the soil. Soil texture can be defined as the percentage of sand, silt, and clay in its content. Topsoils with highly desirable textures have sand, silt and clay contents within the following ranges: sand 40 to 65%, silt 25 to 60%, and clay 5 to 20%.

Types of topsoil with desirable textures include: sandy looms, silt loams, and loams.

There is a marketing and communications association that was formed to assist entrepreneurs in the topsoil business and the general public. 1.800.TOPSOIL provides an easily remembered number where people can get information about the availability of good topsoil. 1-800-TOP-SOIL members include the finest Topsoil and Landscaping supply companies in the nation.

They currently have members spread through the United States. In order to find the topsoil and landscape supply company in your area, that is right for you, call 1.800.TOPSOIL.