Topsoil is the uppermost, outermost layer of soil. In Maryland, it’s usually the first 6-8 inches of dirt, but it can vary depending on the area. Topsoil is where most of the Earth’s biological soil activity occurs has a high concentration of organic matter and microorganisms. Four elements make up the composition of soil; mineral particles, organic matter, water, and air. The varying levels of each element are what make up the skeletal structure of most soils. These elements are what make topsoil so ideal for supporting plant growth, and why it is found in so many Maryland gardens. When people think of uses for topsoil they generally just associate it with gardening, but topsoil can actually be used for many different things. Below are the top four uses for topsoil that Marylanders love.
1. Creating a Plant Bed
Topsoil is a great foundation for growing a beautiful garden. Without topsoil, you’re probably going to find that the Maryland dirt in your yard isn’t able to support your plants as well as you would like. To use topsoil to create a plant bed, you’re going to want to start by spreading about two inches of topsoil over the intended area. Then, mix it with the currently existing dirt to a depth of about four inches. This is because there may be a huge compositional difference between your topsoil and garden soil, and mixing the two together will create a transactional layer that will prevent drainage problems between the two types of soil. Then add another layer of topsoil to act as the fertilizer and top layer of dirt.
2. Fixing Lawn Damage
Fixing lawn damage is one of the more extremely handy uses for topsoil. Stubborn bare patches where you can’t make any grass to grow can be a common problem in Maryland yards. You can fix this problem by adding a bit of topsoil. The topsoil will be able to support the growth of healthy, new grass. Using a small amount will provide the grass with just enough fertilization to begin growing in just a few short weeks.
3. Improving Rainwater Drainage
During the rainier months in Maryland, you may find that you have areas in your yard that tend to hold a lot of water. You may be able to improve this situation by adding some topsoil. Utilize a sandy soil combined with organic matter (like compost or ground pine bark) and mix it in with the existing dirt to a depth of about 12 inches. Changing the composition of your current dirt will allow water to drain far more successfully to avoid creating any unwanted puddles in your yard. This is one of the more forgotten uses for topsoil that can prevent expensive home repairs.
4.Improving The Soil in Your Lawn
You may have a backyard full of grass that has seen better days, and you are wondering how you can improve its appearance. You can use topsoil to “topdress” your lawn. This involves spreading a thin layer of soil all over your lawn to help your grass become healthier and improve its appearance. Topdressing can help law problems that include low spots due to rotting tree roots; settling after underground pipe or cable installation, erosion; uneven terrain caused by Maryland’s freezing and thawing throughout the winter, water runoff, tunneling critters; and it can be used if your grass is depleted of nutrients due to leaching, neglect, or repeated use of chemical fertilizers. It’s important to apply a light, even layer to avoid changing the grade of your yard by accident.
Why Topsoil is Important
In each of the projects, it’s very important that you don’t use another kind of dirt. You need to use topsoil because it contains the organic matter that is necessary for supporting plant growth. If you’re looking to help improve rainwater drainage in your yard, it is still imperative that you use topsoil because it’s the unique composition of topsoil that will help the water drain. If you accidentally end up purchasing the second most common type of dirt, fill dirt, you’re not going to get the results you want. Knowing the differences between these kinds of dirt can help you from making this easy mistake.
The skeletal structure of topsoil is made up of 50-80% of mineral particles. The variance of different amount of mineral particles can change the internal matter and affect the uses for topsoil in things such as water drainage and overlying landscape. The second element of organic matter affects soil based on its quantity within the soil. Too much organic matter and too little organic matter can have both positive and negative effects on the soil. For example, a lot of organic matter with make the soil extremely rich in nutrients, but it will also create weak bearing capacities. Having a small amount of organic matter is going to make the soil much more stable, but it will lack the necessary nutrients to support plant growth.
Fill dirt is taken from the ground and is found approximately six inches below the top layer, of nutrient-rich topsoil. The reasons for its uses are so different from uses for topsoil due to a lack organic matter. Because fill dirt lacks this organic matter, it can be tightly compacted and trusted to not shift over time, making it extremely sturdy and stable. Topsoil will suffer from shifting because when the organic matter does break down, it will change the volume of the soil. Fill dirt is great for construction purposes like building foundations, land grading, and it can be used for highway maintenance. Fill dirt has many uses, but it should never be used in a situation where you are trying to make something grow. For example, if you use fill dirt to fill in a bare spot of grass, the grass is never going to be able to grow there and in a few weeks, you will still just have a patch of dirt.
To get the topsoil you need to start your project speak to a Maryland topsoil contractor for more information.