How to Buy Topsoil


Topsoil is the first few inches of rich soil that is used to plant landscapes and gardens. It covers fill soil, called sub-soil, with fewer good attributes for plant growth. Good topsoil has a high and balanced content of nutrients, decaying organic matter, microorganisms that support plant growth and retains moisture. You can create healthy topsoil over time by adding all of these elements individually and in balance. Or you can buy premixed topsoil by the bag or by the cubic yard delivered by a truck to improve soil conditions for immediate planting.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil and paper
  • Calculator
  • Measure the area requiring topsoil. Run your measuring tape along the length and width of the area and write down the measurements. Multiply the width by the length to get the square footage. Note how many inches of top soil depth you need or want--usually between a few inches for lawns, 8 to 10 inches for fine garden beds, and the entire depth of containers.

  • Convert your square footage and depth measurements to cubic yards when working with large amounts of topsoil. You can estimate smaller areas and containers and figure out how many 20-pound bags to buy. Use an online conversion calculator, enter the measurements you've written down and the desired soil depth to calculate the cubic yards. For instance, an area that is 20 feet wide and 15 feet deep with 6 inches of topsoil will require 5.56 cubic yards of top soil.

  • Order the needed cubic yards of top soil from a reputable garden center, landscaping firm or home improvement retailer for delivery to your property when someone will be present.

  • If a truck cannot access the area where you need the top soil, it can be dumped in a pile on the driveway or side yard and hauled to where you need it by wheelbarrow. Save yourself some backbreaking work and get it as close as possible to where you want it.

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  • Photo Credit USDA
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