What is Topsoil Used For? A Beginner’s Guide to Top Soil


If you’re a beginner in the gardening world, we’re sure you will have heard of the term topsoil before. But do you actually know what topsoil is?

Or the difference between compost and topsoil? Or how about screened topsoil? This article aims to guide and answer all your pressing questions and you will learn exactly what topsoil is used for.

At Earth Cycle, we are topsoil experts! Selling everything from wildflower topsoilturf dressingorganic garden topsoilvegetable topsoil and of course, the forever popular lawn topsoil. If you aren’t sure which type of topsoil you’ll need for your yard or garden, we’ll be discussing that later too.

For now, though,

1) What Is Topsoil?

You may be wondering, ‘what is topsoil used for?’, but to answer this, you must first gain an understanding of what exactly is topsoil. The Cambridge English dictionary definition of topsoil is ‘(the soil which forms) the top layer of ground in which plants grow’.

Essentially, it is the uppermost part of the earth’s surface. The soil is formed over many years and as rocks become altered, they break down into very small parts (usually due to chemicals or weathering).

As this process is happening, many other organic matters will naturally occur on the earth’s surface (e.g. vegetation, dead animals and leaves), which will mix into the topsoil. What this means is that topsoil contains an astounding amount of organic nutrients and minerals which supports life – making it ever so popular amongst us gardener pros! 

Topsoil can also take over 100 years to properly form on the earth’s surface.

2) What Is Topsoil Used For?

So now we are ready to answer the next question on your mind that is ‘what is topsoil used for?’

Topsoil is widely used in gardening and landscaping and is deemed better than regular soil potting mixes you can purchase. It’s incredibly efficient at improving the quality of soil on any given patch of land and is good for levelling out uneven surfaces on your lawn.

Topsoil provides the nutrients and minerals your plants, vegetables and shrubs needs to flourish and grow into healthy, happy plants. There are many different uses for topsoil including using it to build gardens, fix lawns and make drainage better. It’s always best to do a soil test just in case, just to check whether your soil is as healthy as you need it to be for the projects you want to do.

3) Using Topsoil for Gardens

One of the more popular uses for topsoil is to make a new plant bed or refurbish your garden at home. This is done by spreading a 2-inch thick layer onto the existing soil and thoroughly mixing it together to about 4 inches (this is vital in preventing draining problems between the two soil types).

You can then go ahead and add a top layer of topsoil to get your garden to the desired depth. Using well-fertilised topsoil with organic matter will encourage your plant bed to grow and flourish.

If you are using topsoil for gardening then we recommend either our Organic blend or our beds and borders topsoil.

4) Using Topsoil for Lawns 

What is topsoil used for? Another reason is using it to repair damaged lawns. It can be used to fill low areas of the lawn to make the space level.

Simply spread a 2-inch layer of topsoil over a sparse area of grass and level it out with a shovel. The grass will then grow through the new soil. 

If you want to add a completely new patch of grass then you should spread a 1-inch thick layer over the site, and then work the seeds into the topsoil with a rake. Follow up with daily watering and you should see the grass sprout in only a couple of weeks. 

For the best topsoil for lawns, we recommend using our Turf Dressing Rootzone. We also deliver potting soil and bagged topsoil here at Earth Cycle, if you wanted some delivered.

5) Using Topsoil for Drainage

You can also use topsoil to improve the quality of soil drainage. If you have an area of land that holds water then using sandy topsoil combined with compost will create good drainage in the root zone area of plants.

To do this, simply pour the topsoil over the existing soil and mix it to a depth of 12 inches.

For best results, our topsoil supreme contains a blend of quarried sand and 40% of our own PAS100 compost.

What is Screened Topsoil? 

Now that you have learned exactly what topsoil is used for, the next question to answer is ‘what is screened topsoil?’. Although there are many different varieties of topsoil, in general, they are placed into two categories; screened and unscreened. 

A screened topsoil has been put through a meshing process (filtered). What this means is that customers can actually choose how fine or chunky they want their topsoil to be. The main benefit of this is that it allows for optimum water flow and distribution of essential nutrients and minerals, meaning the soil in your garden won’t be adversely affected.

Unscreened means that it has not been put through this meshing process. Unscreened topsoil is still a good option and is a cheaper alternative that is best for beginners.

What’s The Difference Between Compost and Top Soil?

We have established what topsoil is (the upper part of the earth’s surface) but how does this differ from compost? To fully understand this, we need to understand what compost actually is.

What is Compost? 

The Cambridge dictionary definition of compost is decaying plant material that is added to soil to improve its quality. Compost contains nutrients that act as a natural fertiliser and is great for enhancing soil structure and improving drainage. The most popular and best type of compost is humus: an organic matter broken down to its smallest particle.

But What Is the Difference Between Compost and Topsoil?

Understanding the difference between compost and topsoil is essential for any gardener or landscaper. So as we know, topsoil is the top layer of ground in which plants are grown, whilst compost is the decaying plant material (nutrients) that is added to the soil to improve quality. 

Shall I Use Compost or Top Soil?

It isn’t a question of ‘shall I use compost or topsoil?’, as, most of the time, it’s a blend of the two together that will achieve ultimate results. When looking for lawn or yard improvements, topsoil should always be used as the foundation and enriched with compost.

Compost is a soil amendment and not a growing medium – we just know the word “compost” better than “growing medium” so many of the brands you will find in the garden centre call themselves compost when they are actually growing mediums that contains compost along with other components such as peat, woodchip and coir to achieve the nutrient and pH balance needed for different types of plants.

As Earth Cycle compost is peat-free and manufactured in the most sustainable way possible, none of these additional components is added to the composted plant materials that make our compost. We, therefore, recommend it should not be planted directly into, but mixed with the existing soil to give it a much-needed boost to your raised beds and garden beds!

6) Where Can I Buy Top Soil?

If you are planning a garden renovation, are growing a new vegetable patchimproving your lawn or just want to breathe some life into your beloved plant beds, then you can purchase multi-purpose topsoilcompostmulch and all the tools you need from our online store at an affordable price.

All of our topsoil products are nutrient-rich and are ideal to plant flowers, grow vegetables or level out uneven lawns. We provide high-quality and eco-friendly products to the whole of the UK and all of our topsoils comes in a handy bulk bag at an affordable price.

What is Topsoil Used For? A Quick Recap

We hope that you have learned everything you need to know about topsoil! Our aim is to provide you with the very best and most informative advice on topsoil for beginners and hopefully, you will now have a good idea of when and how to use the product. For a quick recap, the below topics have been discussed throughout this blog post: 

  • What is topsoil?
  • What is topsoil used for?
  • What is screened topsoil?
  • What is the difference between compost and topsoil?
  • Shall I use compost or topsoil?
  • Where can I buy topsoil?

If you need any help with any of the above, or if you can’t find a specific product, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. If you have learned anything from this news article, we hope it is ‘what is topsoil used for?’, so that you can go ahead and start your beautiful garden projects.

Earth Cycle are a family run business and we have grown from an organic dairy and arable farm to a solar farming and fully-fledged waste recycling business. Our mission is to become as sustainable as possible, so unlike many brands, our products are 100% peat free and our compost holds carbon-reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

View our topsoil range

This item has been added to your shopping cart!

Would you like to add more?