Getting the right kind of soil to ensure that your garden flourishes, is so important, and one of the many questions we frequently get asked is to explain the different between Topsoil and Loam Soil – and how to know which should be used in a garden.
Every gardener knows that for their plants and flowers to have the best chance of success the soil they are planted in must be rich in organic matter, free from harmful chemicals, kept moist, and turned over as much as possible.
Many gardeners who feel their soil needs a little boost will simply head to their local garden centre and buy only topsoil to try to improve their soils nutrient level and help their garden grow.
The problem with this, however, is that to take care of your whole garden you must dig a little deeper. Loam and topsoil are often banded together, however, while they share some similar qualities they are not the same thing, and it is important for gardeners to understand the difference. So, what is the difference between topsoil and loam?
In your garden (as you may guess by its name), Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil, or rather, the first 12 inches. Topsoil will be dark and rich in organic matter due to leaves and other vegetation that will have decomposed on the surface. However, topsoil can also contain sand, clay, and silt.
Loam is a classification given to soil rather than a standalone type. When soil is described as loam soil, it is because particular qualities it contains – a mixture of sand, silt and clay. You can also get different types of loam depending on the percentages of sand, silt and clay found within it. You may hear soil being referred to as ‘sandy loam’ or ‘clay loam’ for example because it has a greater percentage of one material then normal.
When it comes to commercial Topsoil and Loam Topsoil, Topsoil tends to have a looser consistency – this is to help with draining so when you water your plants the water will quickly reach the roots and retain a great amount of moisture, but also drain away well so as not to build up and drown your plants and flowers. Good quality topsoil often contains decaying organic matter, rich in nutrients to feed your soil. Loam soil contains little or no organic matter, however, it is popular with gardeners, landscapers and green keepers alike because of its ability to retain water and nutrients.
What is important to remember is that when you ask for topsoil in your garden centre, you may be given something that is not loam soil as well – and therefore not as beneficial to your garden as it could be! A mix of organic matter plus the benefits that a loamy soil provides is ideal..
So, now you know, next time you buy, make sure to be clear so you can rest assured you are getting the very best kind of soil to help your garden grow.
At Bury Hill, all our premium grade topsoils and loams are blended using high-quality natural soils, selected sands and grits and organic compost from known sources. So whatever your gardens needs, we will be happy to help!