Topsoil vs. Fill Dirt: Choose the Best for Your Project

load of top soil
When you think about adding elements to your landscape, dirt probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Obviously, the dirt you use on your property is not going to be the star of the show. Rather, it is going to play in the background, providing a home for all of the beautiful plants and flowers that you choose. However, even though dirt is not going to be featured as the main attraction, it still demands your attention as an important piece of the puzzle.

One of the common questions that gardeners encounter while working on their projects is whether they should use top soil or fill dirt. The answer, of course, depends on the situation. In some cases, topsoil will be necessary, while other situations will call for nothing more than basic fill dirt. So how do you make the choice? Read on.

Isn’t Dirt Just Dirt?

No, it’s isn’t. That’s the simple answer, and it may be all you need to know to move on. If you would like to get farther into this topic, it has to do with the amount of organic matter in the dirt. You aren’t going to find a meaningful amount of organic matter in fill dirt, which can be found just a short distance below the top layer of ground. If you are looking for stability, you are looking for fill dirt. Without organic matter to deal with, this type of dirt tends to be stable. This is where the name ‘fill dirt’ comes from – it is perfect for filling in a space.

Of course, if you want to grow something, you are going to want that organic matter, which is why you would opt for topsoil. There are nutrients included in topsoil which are vital to the health of your plants and flowers. When you go shopping for dirt, you’ll find that there are many different types available, so learn about the options and think about your needs before making a decision.

When Would You Pick Fill Dirt?

The potential uses for fill dirt are nearly endless, but we wanted to highlight a few common scenarios just to enhance your understanding of the topic. One way fill dirt will commonly be used on a residential property is to raise a low spot. To level out your yard, you may choose to purchase some fill dirt for use in that space. Depending on what the final use of the space is going to be, you may decide to pack that fill dirt and then cover it with topsoil before planting. Fill dirt is also used frequently in construction as a way to improve the building site with a stable base.

When Would You Pick Topsoil?

This one is pretty easy – you are going to use topsoil when you are planning to plant just about anything in that space. Flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and much more will benefit from the presence of a quality layer of topsoil. As another side benefit, topsoil can help to improve drainage in parts of your property, as water may move through the topsoil better than a layer of fill dirt.