Types of Topsoil

Not all dirt is created equal. The type of topsoil can make a big difference in the success of your landscape and garden.

When landscaping your yard, lots of thought usually goes into the design: where flowers and plants will be placed, what colors, and what sizes. However, an important part of landscaping is being aware of your topsoil. This soil is your barrier against flooding and erosion and plays a key factor in the type of plants and flowers that will blossom in your garden.

Soil is defined as a layer of earth created through a combination of organic material and air pockets. There are three basic types of soil that you can use in your garden: clay, sand, and loam. Each soil has its own unique properties and are best for different situations. Clay is soil that is made up of very small particles. It holds water extremely well, but does not drain easily. With clay soil it is important to space out your watering so that you do not drown your plants. The best plants for clay soil are trees (such as elm, birch, oak, maple and Cypress) and the hardier varieties of perennials (aster, daylily, black-eyed Susan’s).

Sandy soil is made up of larger particles. Unlike clay, sandy soil does not hold water well and either requires extra watering or plants that do not need lots of water. Plants that grow best in sandy soil are evergreens, sumac, the Virginia creeper, and the trumpet vine. The best flowers are daisies and grevilleas.

Loam is actually a combination soil, consisting of sand, clay, silt, and other organic materials.

Loam is the richest of the three soils is and also the easiest to work with. It is nutrient rich, fertile, and is the most balanced, creating a wonderful home for plants and flowers. With loam, the darker the soil, the richer the soil, with the best loam being almost black. Whichever soil you have, adding different layers of compost and mulch can help your plants and flowers reach their full potential.