The simple answer to this is question is it depends what you want to do with it. Deciding which to use can be confusing for the novice gardener. Let’s explain the difference and give you a few suggestions as to how to use them.

What is Topsoil?

Basically, topsoil is the top layer of the soil. It is where everything grows. If you are building raised beds, replacing a lawn, creating new beds in your garden or your soil is very shallow, topsoil is what you need to get. There are a variety of types, depending on your needs. Topsoil can be purchased from a variety of different suppliers. Greenvale is one such supplier.

Topsoil is not good for growing plants in pots. The reason is that topsoil will not provide enough nutrients for the growing plants. It is good when plants are growing in open ground because they can spread out their roots and search out nutrients elsewhere. In a pot, the plants roots are confined.

What is Compost?

Compost is a growing medium with much more oomph than topsoil. It contains far more organic material and nutrients. A slow release fertiliser can also be included in the mix. The packaging should provide all the necessary information. There are times when both topsoil and compost can be used together. For example, many nurseries use it to make their own potting compost. The reason the two are mixed is that it creates a medium that holds its structure and doesn’t dry out too quickly, which can be problem when using just compost.

The Different Types of Compost

Just like topsoil, compost can be found in a variety of types. All of them are rich in nutrients, but there are other additions which make each one suitable for different things.

General Purpose Compost – there are a range of different ones, but basically, it is good when you want to give your garden a boost. It can be used in many different areas such as baskets, pots, borders and beds. Topping up raised beds is another use.

Organic and Peat Free Compost – this is made using 100% recycled garden waste. It is a sustainable alternative you can add to your garden. The compost contains organic material that promotes healthy growth. It is an option if you are concerned about the environment, because it is made using garden waste that is collected from households. Waste which would have been put in landfill.

Potting Compost – this is used for house plants as it gives them the nutrients they need and allows them to take up the water they need to grow well. There are two different types: peat or soil based. Plants that need a lot of water will be better sat in peat based compost. Whereas those that need lots of nutrients will be better with a soil based compost.

Grow Bag Compost – this growing medium is used when you want to give your plants room to spread their roots. Originally, they were used in greenhouses, rather than planting directly into the soil. However, they are now used in many homes where space is limited.