How to Make Good Topsoil

Topsoil can be improved by remixing it. image by Mike Berg/stock.xchng


Many areas have topsoils that are not well balanced for gardening or agriculture. Although there are some ways to abate poor soil without completely replacing the topsoil, the best way to create good, healthy topsoil is to remove the existing topsoil and remix it with the missing soil components. A very important aspect of maintaining your new topsoil's health is to regularly rotate garden crops and regularly fertilize the new soil.

Step 1

Dig 8 to 12 inches of topsoil out of the area to be augmented. Place this soil in a mound.

Step 2

Sift the topsoil to remove rocks and larger objects. Sifting also allows you to establish the overall composition of your existing topsoil. Make a new pile of your sifted soil.

Step 3

Analyze the existing contents of your topsoil. Ideally, topsoil should be about a third sand, a third clay and a third silty soil. Add various components to achieve this approximate mix. A combination of a shovel and a garden rake should allow for good, thorough mixing of the components.

Step 4

Analyze the organic components of your topsoil mix. Topsoil for gardening will have around 20 percent to 30 percent organic matter.

Step 5

Add organic fertilizer, like compost or cow manure to achieve a good balance of organic and soil matter.

Step 6

Thoroughly mix the added components with your original sifted soil and shovel it into the area from which you removed the original topsoil. The soil is ready for planting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Hard clay soils can be very difficult to dig out. If your soil is a hard clay soil, or any unusually hard packed soil, consider using a rototiller to loosen the soil before sifting.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Soil sifter
  • Sand (for heavy clay soils and silty soils)
  • Silt (for sandy or heavy clay soils)
  • High clay soil (for sandy or silty soils)
  • Garden rake
  • Compost or cow manure


  • How to Make Topsoil
  • How to Build New Topsoil
  • Making Your Own Soil

Who Can Help

  • How to Make Good Soil
  • 8 Steps for How to Make Better Garden Soil
  • How to Make Better Garden Soil
Keywords: organic soil conditioning, topsoil conditioning, organic gardening, soil health, garden preparation

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.

Photo by: Mike Berg/stock.xchng