Whether you're planning a new lawn, planting flowers or shrubs, or developing your garden, topsoil is a critical component. The soil you choose will determine the health of your plants, and it may also influence the amount of money you spend.
Sand and silt soils are ideal for lawns, flowerbeds, trees, and other landscaping projects because they're easy to work with, compact quickly, and hold nutrients. If you're unsure what kind of soil your property has, do a "feel test" or use a jar to estimate the texture.
The texture of your soil is influenced by the proportions of sand, silt, and clay. For best results, select a sandy loam that has 50 to 80 percent coarse sand or gravel, which will help your plants absorb water and dry out quickly.
A good rule of thumb is that you can expect a sandy soil to take up to three times as much water as a clay soil, and it will dry out faster, too. It's important to avoid clay soils if you have succulents, because they can become soggy and rot quickly in too much moisture.
Compost is decaying plant or animal matter that turns into nutrient-rich soil. You can add compost to a sandy soil or garden bed to improve its fertility and prevent soil compaction.
You can also buy bulk mulch, potting soil, and soil amendments online. It's typically less expensive than buying them in a garden center or hardware store, and it can be convenient to have them delivered to your home. You can also talk to a local gardener or the experts at your home center or cooperative extension for more advice.