How to Create a Good Top Soil Blend


Topsoil is a valuable commodity. Garden centers and nurseries sell it in bags, but the best topsoil occurs in the natural landscape. Topsoil is the upper 4 to 8 inches of loose, organically rich soil in which most edible and ornamental plants grow. This soil contains broken-down organic material from plants, worms, sand, air and water. Topsoil forms over hundreds of years, but you may need it sooner than that to plant a new garden or flowerbed.

Step 1

Pour a bag of purchased topsoil into the bed of a large wheelbarrow. Break up clumps with a hoe or rake until the soil forms a light and fluffy pile. Check the soil for unusual smells. The bagged topsoil should smell earthy and fresh.

Step 2

Sift through the topsoil using a rake to locate and remove unwanted debris. Some commercial topsoil contains twigs, rocks, dead weeds and root clumps that the vendor did not sift out before sale. Sifting also creates a looser, more pliable soil that allows for easy addition and mixing of amendments.

Step 3

Add one part compost material to four parts soil in the wheelbarrow. Mix in the compost with a hand or regular shovel or by scooping up clumps with your hands. Organic material stimulates root growth for all plants and promotes an active microbial environment in the soil.

Step 4

Add one part peat moss to four parts soil in the wheelbarrow. Peat adds organic material to the topsoil and promotes drainage. It breaks down slowly to fertilize garden plants.

Step 5

Stir the topsoil mixture thoroughly with a shovel or hoe to distribute all components evenly.

Step 6

Roll the wheelbarrow to the location requiring additional topsoil. Dump or shovel the mixture across the garden or lawn surface and spread it evenly with a rake. Optimum topsoil depth should reach at least 4 to 6 inches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Sour-smelling topsoil often indicates a lack of organic material, which provides that common earthy dirt smell. Also, some vendors add herbicides to topsoil to restrict weed growth. Return the product to the vendor or double the amount of organic materials you mix into the bagged topsoil.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial topsoil
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Shovel
  • Hand shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake


  • University of New Hampshire Coooperative Extension: Purchasing Topsoil
  • Utah State University Extension: Topsoil Quality Guidelines for Landscaping
Keywords: good topsoil, creating topsoil, topsoil, healthy topsoil

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.