This is the time of year when people are buying topsoil for their landscaping and gardening projects.
Topsoil varies depending on where you live, but essentially, with a good top soil, it shouldn’t have to be screened. With the screening process clay based soil gets run through a screener and a shaker which makes the soil appear good, but it really isn’t.
What you want to look for is a good, sandy soil. Take a handful of it and break up the clumps between your fingers, if it crushes and granulates easily, then it is a good soil that will allow your grass or plants to grow roots in freely.
If you look at a pile of topsoil and see marbles or little balls rolling down it, stay away! If you can take one of those balls and squeeze it and it flattens out, then it has too much clay base in it. The clay based soil has been screened, shaken and shredded so the soil appears to be healthy. The problem with this clay based soil is that after the first rain, the mud will basically turn into concrete, and nothing can survive that.
Let me show you what I mean, watch:
Wanted! People Who Would Like to Get Paid for Growing
Small Plants at Home Click here.
Michael Lee says
Recently, I heard that good farmers were in the business of growing soil. Topsoil is hard to maintain much longer than it is placed down. I think I’m really thinking about researching a lot more on topsoil.
Good to know. I would have thought the darker soil was the best. Apparently not. I’ve been buying clay. Thank you for the GREAT information.
Ridley Fitzgerald says
Thanks for the helpful information about topsoil. I like how you said that sandy soil is the best to try and find. We want to try and have a garden this spring, so I’ll keep this all in mind!
Elsa Anderson says
Thank you for recommending the best topsoil that one can use in his or her garden. You made a good tip when you mentioned that sandy soil makes a perfect type of topsoil in order make the plants and roots grow easily beneath the surface. I will bear this in mind as I was planning to have the landscaping done in the garden. It defeats the purpose of beautifying the garden if plants and flowers won’t even grow in it. I’ll definitely seek the help of an expert to bring the soil that I need for my garden.
Ivy Baker says
This is some really good information about topsoil. I want my garden to be good this is a year and I think good soil can make the difference. It is good to know that I should be looking for a sandy soil. That wasn’t something I would have thought soil should be.
Ruby Brown says
Thanks for the information about potting soil. I wish I had this information last winter. We purchased 60 bags of potting soil from Wall Mart and it was the worst purchase ever. I used it to pot off seedlings in my mini-greenhouse, and then into bigger pots, before potting into my vegetable garden. It was Miracle Grow and I thought that was supposed to be the best–per advertisement. It smelled awful, and I was allergic to its ingredients–I got the worst case of poison oak or similar allergic reactions I’ve ever had. It lasted for months even with trips to doctors, etc. I complained to Wall Mart by email. I never got a response. Never again!
Ruby, that’s an awful experience. More about potting soil here; Here are some tips on getting good potting soil;
Looking online for mulch is probably not the best place to look because many of the dealers who sell mulch really have little to no web presence at all. I’m sure there has to be some hardwood bark available in New Jersey.
I’d pick up the phone and start calling around. Garden Centers, landscapers and excavators will know who sells bulk hardwood bark mulch. These dealers are often hidden away on some side street.
I’d take a full day and visit as many garden centers and nurseries in your area that you can. Browse, ask some casual questions.
1. Do you know of anybody in the area that sells bulk mulch.
2. Do you know of anybody in the area that sells bulk potting soil.
3. What do most growers around here use as a potting mix.
Bulk potting soil is available, usually around $55 a yard, but worth it. But it’s not readily available in all areas and in most cases you need to send a truck to get it.
But it won’t cost anything to ask these questions. You’ll either get really good, answers, might get the brush off, or you might find somebody who loves to talk about growing plants and will bury you in valuable information.
Good info here about potting soil, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/12/mike-mcgroartys-secret-bed-building-and-potting-soil-recipe/
MARIAN PADGETT says
I AM REALLY ENJOYING YOUR NEWS LETTER. AND ALL THE INFORMATION YOU GIVE OUT,,,YOU SEEM LIKE A WONDERFUL PERSON. NOT MANY WILL GIVE OUT THE INFORMATION YOU DO. TAKE CARE AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK YOU ARE DOING. I AM GOING TO TRY AND PLANT SOME OF THE BLUE BERRYS AND SOME OYHER PLANTS. I WOULD LIKE FOR MY GRANDSONS TO DO LIKE WISE. THEY COULD BUILD THEMSELVES A BUSINESS FOR THE FUTURE. I AM 80 BUT STILL WANTING TO PLANT AND YOU HAVE GIVEN ME THE INSENTIVE. THAKNS
AND THANK YOU SO MUCH. MAY OUR HEAVENLY FATHR BLESS AND KEEP YOU AND YOURS IN HIS LOVING ARMS
Marian, thank you so much for your kind words. You are very kind and keep those grandkids in line!
Thanks so much for sharing this info about top soil. I think I might have thought that the one that looked more “moist” would be better! But, when you explained it, it made sense. I really appreciate all the tips you give us. Thanks, Mike!
gus petrakis says
sounds interesting thanks
Good tip, going today to check a giant pile of top soil!!!!! in n.c.
I have clay, clay, clay. Have a good source to get some creek sand. If I till this into my
planting area will this eventually drain well? Of course it is getting really wet right now and so will be later in April before we can get to the sand. Love your videos keep up the good work.
Adding sand to clay will not produce good soil but a concrete like texture.
What you need to do is add organic matter like fine pine bark leaf mulch , coffee grounds , leaf mulch , grass clippings , compost ,manure or even ground lump charcoal. It also helps to add powered gypsum, or even scraps of gypsum wallboard from a construction site . What mike is talking about is sandy loam soil which is very difficult to make out of clay .
that short movie really help me a lot on picking out soil.
That’s great! It really makes a big, big difference if you get good soil verse not so good soil. Bad soil is bad news!
Is there anything I can use to amend topsoil that has too much clay?
Hi! I have a topsoil question… if I have the clay type soil in my area, is there anything I can do to amend it for use in my raised beds?
Clay soil can be amended with as much organic material as you work into the soil. Rotted leaf compost, or any other kind of compost. Of course depending non the severity of the clay it might be just better to build a new bed over that clay soil using really good topsoil.
I purchased “The Backyard Growing System”. I’ve read it and I’m trying to decide where to put what.
I know you said to put a priority on compost and topsoil. Well, I understand about the quality of the topsoil, but I’m on a shoestring budget and it’s only about 1/2″ long. I do live on a farm of about 70+ acres. We have a creek where I can get sand, I hope it’s course enough, and I’m considering using topsoil that I can dig up from fallen trees, where hay has rotted, and so forth. We do have clay soil here in Mississippi. Will this work or should I just weight until I can buy some commecial topsoil??? I feel kind of stupid but that’s where I am. Anne
Hi, Yes you can amend the soil you have , but it may take some time depending on it’s current condition. So called commercial (bagged soil is not topsoil at all in most cases but rather a synthetic mix of waste products ) If you want good topsoil you can often get it from a construction site where they are building a commercial building (they have to remove the topsoil since it will not support the weight of the building . Do not buy synthetic or mixed topsoil , since it is way overpriced and not real topsoil. Note : there is no legal definition for topsoil so a lot of companies get away with selling their trash as topsoil . In your area look for black loose soil (delta soil or blackjack , or make your own by amending natural soil . Clay soil can be excellent growing medium as long as the texture allows for good drainage , and be careful about tilling when too wet or compacting it by walking or moving over it with equipment .
Buster Stephenson says
im going to plant a hill i have if i put round up or another herbicide down before i plant will new plants be affected does any one know proper way to do this?
If you spray with Roundup wait 3 to 4 days after you spray before you do anything else to the soil. In other words, do not disturb it at all for 3 days. After three days you can dig, chop til etc and plant. The roundup will not harm the plants that you are putting in. Others who are very much against the use of roundup for anything will argue this point, but I’ve been doing it for 40 years.
Is this the killer everything in site roundup?
Thanks for the tip on how to buy the best topsoil. We are getting ready to buy some and now I feel I’m
educated on how to compare the different kinds and make the right choice!
can I take vines from califorina and bring them to mid florida to grow grapes?
Steve, as long as the zones from Calif and Florida are similar the plants should do fine. California has a number of varied climates and to my knowledge Napa Valley is cooler than other parts of the state.
David Albertson says
I now know more about topsoil and what to look for, THANKS
Iva Ormson says
I thank you for asking for plants in my back yard. I would but the hail got most of them i have no blackberries or tomatoes or roses. i am coming start over we live in Edmond OK
the info on the soil is very good . only one problem and that is when I buy soil many times it’s by the bag and that opportunity of squezing is shot down.
Just look for a broken bag , or if none are broken pinch it through the bag and you can get a little idea about the texture . Does it feel like a brick or
a lump of clay , or is it loose and fluffy ? From my experience , it is very rare to get good topsoil from a bag (ever wonder why topsoil is not packed in clear bags like mulch ? )
I am looking at starting a Greenhouse and wondering if it is really necessary!
Lee, a greenhouse? A greenhouse can be fun, but I teach my Backyard Growers http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm how to grow thousands or tens of thousands of plants without a greenhouse. So no, a greenhouse is far from necessary, but many people like them. Keep in mind, I’m in zone 5 and I do not use a greenhouse at all. All of my little plants spend the winter outdoors doing what they do.