Understanding the Soil in Your Garden

Top soil is the uppermost layer of soil on the Earth's surface. It is high in nutrients and organic matter. If you want plants to flourish and do well in your garden, then you need the soil to contain lots of vital nutrients. There are ways to improve the soil in your garden by adding compost or fertiliser, but it takes time for plant matter to decompose and break down to make good-quality top soil.

There are a number of reasons for wanting to either purchase soil for your garden or improve the quality of the soil.

  1. It may be that you've moved to a new house and been left with a builders garden. If this is the case, then you will have been given a thin layer of top soil. This hides the layers of fill soil, called the subsoil. It may contain lots of clay, and therefore will be unsuitable for growing plants.
  2. The garden levels may need altering. You will need to purchase soil to build up the soil level in the garden, and a general-purpose soil which is free of clay should be able to do the job.
  3. If you're creating new beds or borders, you may need soil. Which type of soil you need for these will depend on what you're planning to grow. If you're a keen gardener, then you'll want compost for growing vegetables. Choose the best soil available. Top-quality soil has to meet a certain standard. Check that the soil is screened from rocks, litter and lumps of clay. It should be guaranteed 98% weed free.
  4. If you're embarking on a landscaping project, then you'll need to consider the type of soil you purchase carefully so as not to waste all of your hard work. Understanding the background of soil should help you get the right soil for what you need. There are three types of soil: clay, sand and loam. When purchasing soil, find out the percentage of these in the soil and how much compost is in the mix.

There are different soil suppliers to choose from when it comes to purchasing soil for your garden. Soil is available in bags or delivered in bulk and can be bought from specialist suppliers, garden centres or DIY superstores. Therefore, you will need to consider your budget. You will most probably need a wheelbarrow to move the soil to where you need it going after it's been delivered. Companies will usually have several blends of top soil available.

For plants to do well in your garden, you will want the soil to be a good texture. The soil should look crumbly. Avoid stepping on beds and compacting the soil down. Buying a compost bin is a good way to spread nutrients round the garden. Adding organic matter will help increase the aeration of the soil. Check the pH of the soil, which is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. Every plant has its preferred range of soil acidity. Try not to disrupt the soil unnecessarily because this can destroy the soil food web made up of all the organisms living in the soil.