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In: Landscape Tips

If there’s one key to a successful garden or a beautiful yard, it’s good soil. Soil provides our lawn and a garden with the food, nutrients, water and support they need to flourish.

So for those of you who are a little newer to gardening and landscaping, here’s a little Guide to Gardening and Landscaping Soil.

What is soil?

Soil is one of the world’s greatest natural resources. Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, water, air, organic matter and countless organisms that are the decaying remains of once-living things.


“Topsoil” refers to the very top layer of soil on the earth’s surface. Depending on the location, topsoil is typically about 6 to 12 inches deep. The topsoil area is home to a lot of living organisms that contribute to plant health and growth. It also refers to a general-purpose mixture that can be used as filler and for holes in your yard.

Garden Soil

You will find a variety of different mixes at your local gardening or home improvement store, and you should choose your method based on your garden. Garden soils are typically formulated to target a specific type of plant such as flowers, vegetables or herbs. For example, Fra-Dor carries a 50/50 garden mix of topsoil and MN DOT Grade 2 Compost, which is great for herbs and flowers.

Potting Soil

Potting soil is a special formulation for those plants that you’re growing in pots and other containers.

Soil Color

Soil color is something you should definitely pay attention to. HGTV described soil color perfectly:

“Generally speaking, colors that indicate good soil are dark brown, red and tan. Dark brown suggests that the soil has a good percentage of organic matter. Red reflects the oxidized iron content of the soil, while tan indicates a combination of organic matter and iron.

“If your soil is nearly black, it can indicate one of two things: a high percentage of organic matter, which again is good, or poor drainage that results in a high percentage of anaerobic bacteria, which is bad. How do you know which is which? There are two simple clues: Few plants grow in anaerobic soil and it also smells really bad.”

How do I Choose the Right Soil?

The first you should do is find out what you’re already working with for soil. And you can do that by performing a soil test. A soil test is a good place to start because it will tell you what nutrients your garden is lacking so you can look for a garden soil or topsoil that includes those nutrients. Here’s a list of 10 easy soil tests.

In addition, you’ll want to choose the type of soil based on what your project and desired outcome is. If you’re planting a tomato garden, then a specialty garden soil will likely be your best bet. If you’re planting a flower garden, a soil formulated for flowers is the way to go.

Soil Resources

Hopefully the information above helped you get a grasp on what soil is and why it’s important to helping your lawn and garden live healthy, happy lives. But, here are some other great soil resources to give you more in-depth information:

Home Gardener’s Guide to Soil and Fertilizers
Landscaping Wisdom for the Best Garden Beds
Soil Facts: Basic Information on Soil You Need to Know
Garden Soil Facts by Healthy Urban Habitat
Garden Club blogs on Home Depot

And as always, we’re happy to help in any way we can. Get in touch with us today.

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