Last Updated on February 14, 2021 by Matt Gardener
The dream of every landscape-gardener is to keep a healthy grass lawn that allows them to enjoy the natural beauty along with numerous environmental benefits – but if only it were that easy!
I’ve seen thousands of gardeners fail at this journey due to poor choices of soil. Whether you’re filling raised bed planter, overseeding, or topdressing your lawn, you need the right soil for it – else all your efforts will be in vain.
Here on this page, we’ll be comparing potting soil vs topsoil for grass so you know the one that offers your plant a much higher chance of survival.
Table of Contents
What is Potting Soil?
Potting soil, also known as miracle soil or potting mix, is a medium used to grow plants, herbs, and vegetables in a pot or other durable container. But a true breed potting soil has no ‘actual’ soil in it at all – it is soil-less.
These types of soils are precisely mixed using strict formulas and recipes that help fragile, fine roots spread easily.
It’s a mixture of either peat moss-based with limestone or coconut coir-based. Additional ingredients used in the mix may include, grit (for improving drainage), sand, perlite, and vermiculite (to increase water retention).
Also, fertilizer or compost is not added for potting soils used for seedlings and cuttings because it’s too aggressive for them. As such they are sterile – meaning they have absolutely no weed seeds or diseases in them.
What is Topsoil?
Topsoil, on the other hand, has no specific ingredients. It’s the upper, outermost layer of soil – usually the top 5-10inches (13-25cm) of the Earth’s crust.
It has the highest concentration of organic matter, mineral particles, micro-organisms because plants have lived and died in it over thousands of years.
Topsoil doesn’t work well by itself because the strength of the soil structure has been decreased by the presence of organic matter, creating week bearing capacities. That is why it’s more of a soil conditioner than an ‘actual’ planting medium.
Potting Soil Vs Topsoil For Grass: Which One Is Best For Growing a Grass Lawn
Both soils promise to grow strong and healthy grass lawns. But if I were to skip all the smokes and mirrors; this will be the truth of the matter:
Your grass plant will germinate in the potting soil, but since it has no real soil in it, it’s probably not the best choice for this purpose.
Topsoil would be your best bet because it’s designed with lawn health in mind. It promotes deep root development for natural grass lawns, as well as healthy germination of grass seed to help get the results you want.
With topsoil, lawn maintenance like topdressing and overseeding becomes a fun thing to do because it keeps the lawn look leveled and fresh again.
However, if you plan on using potting soil, be prepared to fertilize every few weeks until the grass is fully established.
I would recommend topsoil. Aside from that, thousands of landscape gardeners have had a bitter experience with growing grass lawn on potting soil.
They complained it was doing well. But, in the long run, they all ended up dying.
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Using the right kind of soil for the project is the number one key to successful gardening.
And between the Potting soil vs topsoil for grasses, the latter appears to be promising as it offers a beneficial relationship for the grass to grow and thrive.
Potting soil is only excellent for planters, window boxes, hanging baskets, and other container plantings where drainage is critical and weight would be a problem.