How Deep Should Topsoil Be?

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Adding topsoil to your lawn and garden can improve your landscaping results.
Adding topsoil to your lawn and garden can improve your landscaping results. (Image: preparing soil for garden image by Cherry-Merry from Fotolia.com)

The Benefits of Topsoil

Topsoil is the dark upper layer that contains the nutrients plants need. If the undersoil is not compact, most landscapers recommend a four- to six-inch layer beneath lawns. On top of this base, many flower and vegetable gardeners add two more inches of fresh topsoil to their garden beds each year to counteract the effects of leeching and erosion.

Four to six inches of topsoil is recommended for growing a healthy lawn.
Four to six inches of topsoil is recommended for growing a healthy lawn. (Image: grass,lawn image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Factors Requiring Additional Depth

Although it can be expensive, some gardeners take a "more is better" approach to topsoil, and certain situations always call for a thicker layer. Add extra topsoil to rocky fill dirt, hard clay soils and raised flower or vegetable beds. To give a boost to plants growing in rocky soil or hard clay, add at least an eight-inch layer of soil. Raised beds require a mix of approximately half compost, half topsoil and little sand for drainage.

Rocky areas require extra topsoil to nourish plants.
Rocky areas require extra topsoil to nourish plants. (Image: garden image by memorialphoto from Fotolia.com)

Bottom Line

For standard lawn and garden applications where soil is not too rocky or compact, four to six inches of topsoil is enough. However, for special soil types, you may need eight or more inches, and you may need to create a custom mix for raised garden beds.

A raised garden bed such as this one requires a custom topsoil blend.
A raised garden bed such as this one requires a custom topsoil blend. (Image: Blumentrog image by Marc Jung from Fotolia.com)

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