What is the Best Source of Topsoil

Author Ellen Vande Visse

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What’s the best source of topsoil?

Oboy…I’ll answer this FAQ as best I can.

First of all, what is the truckload of topsoil for? Lawn? Landscaping? Truckloads are appropriate for large areas.

Garden? The smaller area means you can either:
– Order a commercial load, or
– Haul, place, and mix your own on site. If you are really ambitious, you can build your own soil over 2-4 years –even on gravel. You would deploy permaculture, hugelkultur, and regenerative agriculture strategies to create a very fertile area. It’s very satisfying to put nature to work for you. (And I would love to help & advise for fast results.)

What differences are there in topsoil products?

If the company will tell you percent composition and the pH, that will be a bonus. Ask for an analysis of NPK and pH, if you can get it.

Here are the 3 kinds of topsoil that I know about.
While I am not up to date with names of companies in Anchorage or the Kenai, I am impressed with the choices in the Mat-Su region. (Listed right here in the Compost section AND Where to Buy Compost & Topsoil in the Mat-Su under
Free Resources)
You can choose from:

  • plain topsoil
  • topsoil mixed with compost
  • bulk compost
  • The plain topsoil choice from the Anchorage area is usually a mix of sand, peat, and lime. For people in the Mat-Su region, you might be buying a classification of soil what is technically called Bodenburg soil). Both are fine, if you add organic matter or compost.

    Commercial topsoils are typically lifeless. They lack life—that is, beneficial soil biology. It’s very difficult to grow much in plain topsoil. Why? Because they:

  • lack the microbes that deliver nutrients to your crop, landscaping, or lawn;
  • lack the organic matter that feeds these crucial & beneficia lmicrobes;
  • lack the nutrients necessary to produce nice green plants;
  • lack the sponge-like ability to hold water. Hence your soil dries quickly
    without organic matter like compost. You are forever a slave to irrigating in dry spells and losing soil to erosion in rainy spells.
  • In short, definitely plan on purchasing a soil mixed with compost or adding compost yourself. If you are the one adding the compost, you’ll want it to comprise about 1⁄4 to 1/3 of the volume.

    See the list called “Sources of Bulk Manure & Compost” right in this part of my website for names, phone numbers, and websites of vendors.

    It all comes down to your budget and level of ambition. Compost will ALWAYS pay off in the long run, in spite of the initial labor and cost.

    I hope this helps!