Compost versus Topsoil in Your Yard

Posted on: 22 July 2021

Topsoil and compost are both components of quality garden and lawn soil. Understanding the differences and when to use each can help you grow a healthier yard.

Topsoil Basics

At its most basic, topsoil refers to the top few inches of soil in the yard. This layer tends to have a higher organic material content because this is where most rooting, plant growth, and microbial activity occurs within the soil. It is the layer where decaying leaves release nutrients and where worms and other soil life forms are most active. 

Topsoil can become depleted over time, or it might not be present if the area was stripped for building or similar purposes. Commercial topsoil is available to replace it. Many commercial blends are created using topsoil, compost, and the addition of other fertilizers. It's often preferable that local topsoil is used, as it will have a similar makeup to what is already present in your yard. 

Compost Basics

Compost is made completely of decomposing organic matter. This could be yard waste, such as grass clippings and dead leaves, or it could be kitchen scraps like vegetable peelings and coffee grounds. Compost can also be made of animal droppings, such as horse manure or chicken litter, or it can be made from decomposed mushrooms. 

The purpose of compost is to add nutrition and structure to the soil. The decayed organic matter provides plenty of nutrients, which plants need to grow. The compost also has a larger particle size than soil alone, which allows it to open up the soil and allow air and water infiltration once the compost is mixed in with the existing soil. 

Which to Choose

In many cases, topsoil and compost can be used interchangeably. If your goal is to level a low spot or just add a bit more soil to a garden bed, then you can use either of these options or a combination of both. 

When nutrition is low in a planting area, as determined by a soil test, compost is the better option. It can be tilled in deeply, typically 6 inches or more, to add nutrients into the root zone. The compost will also help open up the soil to better aeration. Compost can dry out quickly when exposed to air, though, so an inch or more of topsoil is usually added to create a moisture-holding barrier. Topsoil, especially that blended with a fertilizer or compost, also works well for topdressing the soil around plants and trees. 

Contact a topsoil and compost provider like Templeton Gap Turf Farm LLC, to learn more or to schedule a delivery today. 


A Perfect Father’s Day Gift

Growing up, I was daddy’s little girl. I absolutely adored my father. Thankfully, I still enjoy spending quality time with this special man. Because Father’s Day always comes up fast, I’ve tried to come up with the perfect gift to give my dad. I've decided to hire a landscaper for my father. My dad’s farmhouse is situated on 70 acres of land. While his front yard is filled with shrubs and flowers, his back yard is relatively void of any vegetation and could use an update. A landscaper would make my father’s back yard as beautiful as his front yard. On this blog, I hope you will discover the benefits of hiring a landscaper for your dad for Father’s Day this year. Enjoy!

Latest Posts