I want to improve my garden soil and I want to add garden soil to my garden. Is this a good idea?
Many folks think they have to add garden soil to get a decent soil and I see this all the time: Let’s add some soil to make the garden better!”
The reality is quite different. Unless you are trying to grow in beach sand (I was in one garden) or raise the level of your garden, then your efforts are a waste of time and money.
What you want is better soil so you can grow better or bigger plants.
You have two options.
I brought two truckloads in to make a raised bed (we have 2-inches of soil over top of rock so not enough to grow on)
You can dig up all your plants (you can’t bury plants under new topsoil)
You bring in a load of topsoil and spend the time spreading it around the garden. Hauling it here and there, raking it and getting it level. Then you reinstall the plants. Your soil level is higher but not necessarily better. I note that some top soil companies add manure to their load to make the soil appear richer but this is simply buying expensive manure.
Or you can spend the same amount of money on bagged manure or compost. Or even bales of straw.
Spread that over your garden soil (without having to dig up plants or dig it in or rake it or ??) as evenly as you can and then walk away. The job is done. (If you can get a load of manure from a nearby farmer you’re even better off but nearby farmers are hard to come by in the suburbs or downtown cores.)
The new temporary raised bed vegetable garden under construction from that pile of soil. This was put in place for one year of construction around the house – wrecking almost all our gardens.
The Lazy Gardener Solution
The worms will pull the organic matter down below the soil line and will do your digging for you.
The organic matter will enrich the soil and you’ll get better yields or flowers next year. Get as much organic matter onto your garden as possible (add some every year) and let the worms do the work
The Only Good Reason To Bring In Topsoil Include
Remember if you bring in top soil, you’re not bringing in fertility or organic matter (the lifeblood of the garden) all you’re doing is bringing in material to raise the level of your soil line.
As you might suspect, I’m not a fan of bringing in topsoil unless I want to raise the level of my garden or smooth over existing holes in the lawn.
If I simply want my garden to grow better because my soil is “poor” or “dead” or not growing things properly, then it is far easier to spend the same amount of money and buy in compost. Compost will enrich and bring your existing soil to life.
Without compost, the efforts you make to add garden soil will not pay off as garden soil you bring in will be as dead as the old one in a year or two without compost to keep it alive.
Don’t add garden soil, add compost.