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Fill Dirt vs. Topsoil vs. Compost vs. Garden Mix

Here at A.G. Landscape Materials we are often asked by some of customers “which dirt should I use?” or they ask about bringing in a large quantity of soil, like 15 – 20 yards. When time allows, we try to find out what the soil is being used for or if our customer is seeding, grading… We hear all kinds of answers. For example, we have removed our pool, we have drainage issues and/or we are trying to create flower beds. Hopefully this blog will address your project and assist you in deciding which material to use.

When trying to fill a deep void (over 10”) i.e. a swimming pool or larger build ups, fill dirt may be used. The “fill dirt” from A.G. Landscape Materials is a product developed from the removals of soil, sod, and land from our customers’ projects. There can be almost anything in it (including, but not limited to, soil, clay, decomposed sod, and some stone), but it is predominately soil. This material usually needs a top covering of pulverized topsoil to first be able to smooth out the top layer and then to have something better to grow into. A real plus for using fill dirt in these applications is that it is inexpensive and a heavier soil. The drawbacks are that it can be difficult with machinery to place and work with.

Rough vs. Pulverized Topsoil: First off, we at A.G. Landscape Materials, Inc. do not carry rough or un-pulverized topsoil. We can have it direct shipped, but like fill dirt you may need a machine or Bobcat to spread it. We prefer to sell pulverized topsoil. Pulverized topsoil is mainly a soil that is removed from farm fields and brought by truck to our location and then reloaded on trucks and sent to homes throughout the Chicago- land area. I discussed “What is Topsoil?” in a blog back on April 1st, 2010. Pulverized topsoil is relatively easy to work with and rake out since most particles are less than ¾” to 1” at most. It is also easy to plant grass seed or other plants into and can be used in either deep applications or thin applications. A con to topsoil may be that the particles can “melt” together and in deeper applications settling may occur if it was not compacted.

Garden Mix is a blend of pulverized topsoil, compost and sand. It is best to use when establishing a new garden or when adding to a garden. I have seen people use this material for lawn seeding application due to its finer granulars, drainage capabilities and being more fertile due to its compost. Although it costs more, since it is premixed, it simplifies the process. You can also plant right into it.

The compost sold at A.G. Landscape Materials, Inc. is developed from a mix of organic materials and turned over and over until it becomes compost. It does not contain manure, and I feel it is easier to work with. It is best when tilled into the soil and can be used with new or existing gardens and flower beds. It also helps loosen clayish soils. Ground covers love this product. I suggest compost on most of our landscape planting projects. A con to this product is that it is light and thus has no weight carrying capabilities and may be more susceptible to wash out in extreme conditions. You should also not plant directly into only compost. It can dry out faster and the solidity of topsoil is helpful.

Most of these materials have other uses than those we discussed here. For your needs, you can e-mail or call us at (630) 295-8190 and we’ll be happy to assist you and hopefully get the right material to you so you can do your job right.

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6 Responses to “Fill Dirt vs. Topsoil vs. Compost vs. Garden Mix”

  1. [...] Fill Dirt vs. Topsoil vs. Compost vs. Garden Mix « AG VanGundy Blog [...]

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