How to Improve Topsoil

Want to know how to improve topsoil? Well, topsoil differs across the country as it is affected by a variety of environmental factors. This means that very few people have the perfect soil in their garden for growing plants. However, there are a few measures you can take to improve your topsoil with the key being to add organic matter.

In simple terms, improving soil means making its texture and structure easier for roots to grow into. This will then make sure that plants receive all the nutrients they need for healthy growth.

Most soils are either heavy or light. Heavy soils are clay based, whilst light soils are made of silt and sand. Both of these can be improved by adding organic matter, such as compost.

Heavy Soils

Clay soils are great at holding water and are full of nutrients, but they are held so close together that it is difficult for the plant’s roots to take advantage of this. As they can hold so much moisture, water logging is a potential problem and it is best to avoid working with them in the wettest periods, such as winter and spring. In the summer they bake hard, so the best time to improve heavy soils is the autumn.

To break up the structure and get more aeration into the soil, you will need to add a layer of at least 5cm of organic material, such as compost. Next, dig this into your soil until all the organic material has been incorporated. Break up any lumps that have appeared with the back of your fork and level the ground.

It is a myth that adding sand to clay soils will improve the structure. In all likelihood this will make the situation worse and we would only recommend using organic material, such as that found in our topsoils and composts.

Light Soils

Light soils have the opposite problem to clay soils as they find it difficult to retain water. These soils tend to be made of silt, with the most difficult to work with being very sandy. Adding organic material will increase the soil’s water retention. It is important to remember that silt soils are still at risk of compaction, so be careful when working with them during wet periods as well.

Again, a layer of at least 5cm of organic material will need to be worked into your existing soil. The organic material will also help improve the structure of the soil so make sure it is well worked in.

​Again, a layer of at least 5cm of organic material will need to be worked into your existing soil. The organic material will also help improve the structure of the soil so make sure it is well worked in.​

In sandy soils organic matter acts as a sponge to help bind everything together and will prevent nutrients from being washed away. Our water retaining topsoil may be perfect for this, but composts will also work well. The best time to work with these soils is in the spring, when they are still moist from the winter rain.

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