Potting Soil vs. Garden Soil
Potting soil and garden soil are often viewed as the main soils. Coincidentally, they are also the focal point of many garden questions. These soils often promise similar qualities, which creates some confusion. However, potting soil and garden soil are not interchangeable. Potting soil is used for container gardening (pots, window boxes, etc.). Most potting soils will contain perlite, a component that helps to facilitate drainage. This is an essential ingredient, as it will prevent the roots from drowning, which would deprive them of oxygen and prevent growth. Popular potting soils are Miracle Gro Potting Mix, Ace Potting Soil, and Master Nursery Pride Potting Soil.
Garden soil, also called “planting mix,” is for in-ground gardening. This is typically a mixture of composted materials, such as peat and bark. Garden soil can be mixed directly into existing native soil. It is heavier than potting soil, which allows it to provide support for roots and top-heavy plants. Garden soil should not be used in containers and is not recommended for indoor use. Good options for garden soil are Miracle Gro planting mixes, Ace Garden Soil, and Master Nursery Eureka Planting Mix.
Topsoil serves a few purposes. It can be used as a top dressing, to backfill holes, or to provide a base for laying sod or reseeding lawns. It is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. This combination will replenish the nutrients that soil gradually loses. Over time, and often after the winter, soil will become a dull shade. In addition to those extra nutrients, topsoil will also restore the original color. Spread topsoil on old soil, and then till the area until it is thoroughly mixed. Topsoil should never be used in a container. Our Ace Topsoil is a popular choice.
Acid Planting Mix
Acid Planting Mix is designed for plants that require a soil pH below 6.5. Potting soil tends to naturally be a bit acidic, due to the nutrients that all plants need. However, the two are not interchangeable. Acid Planting Mix is typically for in-ground use. However, if it is mixed with sand, perlite, etc., it can potentially be used in containers. Some plants that require this type of soil are: Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Hydrangeas, Camellias, Citrus Trees, and Blueberries. One of our favorites is the E.B. Stone Azalea, Camellia Acid Mix, which can be used for containers or in-ground.
Raised Bed Mix
Raised Bed Mix is typically used in garden beds. It is considered a balance between potting soil and garden soil. This mix provides the aeration of a potting soil, while containing the larger particle components of a garden soil. This blend ensures that the vegetation will have good drainage, as well as enough bulk to sustain plant growth.
Soil amendments are versatile. They are occasionally confused with topsoil, but amendments are significantly more beneficial. Overall, a soil amendment is meant to improve your soil. They can help soften and break down existing soil, add extra nutrients, revitalize soil, increase drainage, improve soil structure, and more! There are different kinds of amendments, such as soil building conditioner, manure (steer or chicken), and worm castings. Each type that you choose will have its own properties and intended uses. A soil building compost offers those extra nutrients in different forms, like bat guano or kelp meal. Manure will renew the soil, increase drainage, and improve the overall structure. Lastly, worm castings are a nutrient rich amendment that are recommended when growing vegetables. Some popular amendments are G&B Soil Building Conditioner, Ace Steer Manure, RediGro Chicken Manure, and E.B. Stone Earthworm Castings.
Organic Soil vs. Nonorganic Soil
The difference between organic vs. nonorganic soils is another common question. An organic soil is made from organic matter such as compost, manure, bat guano, oyster shells, etc. There are no pesticides or chemicals in organic soil. A nonorganic soil is a mixture of perlite, bark, and peat moss. Nonorganic soils may contain artificial chemicals and fertilizers.
All soils mentioned are available for purchase at Downtown Walnut Creek Ace Hardware. Downtown Walnut Creek Ace Hardware is proudly Master Nursery certified!