Potting soil, fill dirt, topsoil isn’t it all just dirt? Gardening terms can be confusing sometimes. In some cases, the differences are obvious. Like organic and inorganic mulch is self-explanatory, there are two different kinds of mulch. Isn’t dirt just dirt? What makes them different?
The fact is each type of dirt has a different application. Learn more about what makes potting soil, fill dirt and topsoil so different.
Dirt by A Different Name
The different types of soil names are more than semantics. Each type has a separate function. For example, potting soil is designed to have the nutrients that are necessary to help a plant survive in a “pot”. It is fortified soil.
Understanding the difference starts with understanding the definition of each:
- Potting soil-is a precision mixed soil. It contains a mix of peat moss and other materials that are designed specifically for easy root growth and to provide a nourishing environment to potted plants. Potting soil is technically not dirt, as a matter of fact, high quality potting soil has no dirt in the ingredient list.
- Topsoil-topsoil is dirt, but it is dirt that has organic matter mixed in to create a more nourishing environment for plants that grow in the ground.
- Fill dirt- Fill dirt is unenhanced dirt that may contain rocks, sticks and other debris, it is used to “fill in” areas that need to be built up. (By the way, SLM’s Fill dirt is one of the cleaner varieties in town.)
Each medium has a specific use for example topsoil uses include preparing garden beds or patching lawn areas. Fill dirt is used to build up an area. There are even different types of fill dirt that are graded by quality.
Potting Soil is Best for Potted Plants and Seed Starting
Technically you could use topsoil in a pot, but you likely will not the same results. Potting soil is very light and is amended to perfection to nurture the potted plant. Topsoil is a much hardier mix which can stunt the growth of potted plants and make it difficult for seeds to thrive.