Don't buy topsoil at Home Depot...go to Ace instead

perennialfan273(zone 5)August 7, 2009


I'm not a spokesperson for Ace or anything like that, but I just wanted to say that this year when I went to Home Depot and got my topsoil, I was not impressed. It was gray, and it was basically...ROCK HARD CLAY!! I don't know where they got this stuff but it is DEFINITELY NOT topsoil! Anyways, I went to my grandma's house this week to help her with some gardening stuff, and in her garage I found a bag with the BEST potting soil I've seen this year. Light and fluffy with lots of cow manure, all signs of good soil. I asked my uncle (who lives with her) where he got it, and he said Ace. On top of this, the bags only cost a buck apiece! I don't know about you guys, but there's NO WAY I'm buying from Home Depot again. From now on, I'm going to Ace.

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Since there is no legal definition for what might be called "topsoil" it can be anything the person selling it wants it to be. The dictionary I have says "topsoil" is the top 4 inches of soil. There is a large differecne between "potting soil" and "topsoil" and usually the "potting soil" will be mostly peat moss, finely shredded bark, or coir or a combination of those, maybe with some manure added.
Since you can make your own "topsoil" quite easily by adding enough organic matter to the soil you have there is no good reason to spend money buying something labeled "topsoil" in any store.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 7:06AM
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You didn't say what brands you were talking about. It may not be anything to do with the store if you are talking about two different brands or even products (topsoil vs. potting soil).

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 9:25AM
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Often these large stores are sourced from the same supplier, just different packaging, but one should compare a product to a like product. As pointed out, topsoil isn't potting soil.

Brings to mind the movie Notting Hill....

Spike: There's something wrong with this yogurt.
William: Ah, that's not yogurt, that's mayonnaise...
Spike: Ah, right-o then.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 9:41AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Not only that but all of these national chains get their heavy products like gravel, much and soil from local or regional sources. There's no national Home Depot soil supplier shipping stuff all across the country. Too expensive. So my HD will not have the same products as yours. My Ace Hardware has bags of "Compost" that are silty river sediment from a supplier 30 miles away. Virtually no organic matter. So, glad you liked what you were able to get, but for everyone else, YMMV.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 10:10AM
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What is YMMV?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 9:11AM
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"What is YMMV?"

Your Mileage May Vary

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:09AM
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Not only all that above, but product in same labelled bags may vary from year to year or even within season. Does not seem to be much quality control going on. So I am trying to use my compost or even compostables-in-place for uses I might previously have bought a bag of topsoil. When I was creating garden beds and hadn't as much composting going on and needed to make a smallish amount of "soil," I would actually buy a bag or 2 of cheapest topsoil and mix 50-50 with my compost or nearly-compost rather than pay higher price for soil with manure or compost mixed. For large amts of instant-gratification garden soil, a truckload of supersoil from a good supplier is great!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 7:03PM
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There is no quality control in the sale of "topsoil" because no one really knows what it is. Spending money on what someone sells as "topsoil" is usually a waste of your money especially since compost will produce a better soil when applied to whatever you have then anything labeled "topsoil" ever will.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 7:48AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Except that topsoil is largely mineral matter and will not decompose away, which compost will (mostly anyway). If you're trying to fill a raised bed and want it to still be there next spring, you have to use soil and not just compost. I'm sure you knew that kimmsr but I was just saying it for other readers.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:40PM
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Since you amend soil with compost, and since amending tht soil with compost creates a good soil, and since organic matter is the one thing you can add to any soil that will make it better. spending money on anything that is labeled "topsoil" is most often a waste of your money since there is no legal definition of what "topsoil" is and it can be anything the seller of that wants it to be.
When you make a raised bed you put in some soil (any kind will do) and mix in organic matter, which includes compost, and that will be less expensive than buying some garbage labeled "topsoil" as many people here have found and reported here. There is nothing magical about any "topsoil" except the price.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 7:06AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

So you're saying ANY kind will do, but the stuff in a bag won't do.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 10:39AM
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I'm guessing that more than a few members are killing themselves laughing, I know I am. Pure entertainment sometimes.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 10:45AM
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If you amend any soil with organic matter that will be better than anything labeled "topsoil" you can buy. You could, if you have nothing else to do with your money, buy "topsoil" and you will find that most often you need to add organic matter to that "topsoil" anyway, so you can use it.
Soil is composed of the mineral portion, the particles that make your soil a clay soil, sandy soil, or a loam, and organic matter. It is the organic matter that the Soil Food Web live on and create the from the nutrients that your plants need to grow. Organic matter is the one material in any soil mix that the soil bacteria (the Soil Food Web) will digest, make disappear, and since that is what all soils need there is no good reason to purchase some more mineral soil particles to add to the mineral soil particles you already have when what you do need is organic matter.
Therefore spending money on something labeled "topsoil" is a waste.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 7:08AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Perhaps this whole thing is due to an assumption on your part that everyone has a pile of soil they can just scoop off of to make new raised beds. Most people do not, and are forced to buy soil. If one needs only a couple wheelbarrows full and/or does not have a truck to get a load, the bag is a convenient way. I do not disagree that the bagged stuff would require amending.

I like free range eggs too, but I don't have a chicken, so I buy them in a carton. I guess that is a waste of money too.

I am going to stop debating $1.49 bags of soil now. There's just no payback in it! ;-]

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 2:35PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Actually I think I see what you're thinking AP. The key is I'm talking about making raised beds and you're talking about improving existing topsoil. Two different projects. Make you a deal: I promise to never insist that bagged topsoil is the answer to all garden problems, if you agree not to insist that compost is the only answer. :-D

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 3:58PM
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to were trying to tell everybody about the good topsoil you bought and even went as far as telling us where you bought it only to be knocked cant please long as you benefit by what you bought thats all that matters....

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 5:56PM
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Ditto to everyone who said it's iffy at best to buy anything labeled "topsoil"... I've had better success with generic-sounding "soil amendment" (which, the label informed me, consisted of composted forest products... so, probably some good microbes hiding out in it) and mushroom compost than anything that says "topsoil" on the bag.

BTW, I'm a happy new Ace customer too, but for a different reason. When I was buying pine straw there the other day, the manager piped up and said, "You know we can deliver that right to your house."

I perked up and said, "Oh really? How much?"

"No charge." Um.... WOW. I dare you to ask any Home Depot if they'd provide that kind of service!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 7:17PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Amazing. That's the sort of thing that's going to keep them competitive.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:33AM
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I don't understand buying amendments.There is too much FREE stuff out there.If it rots it is a amendment so punt it in the garden.
When I started I had to break up the hardpan with a pick.Now three years later I have made it into rich soil.There is too meany sources of getting things/stuff that will build a good garden soil. I grant you it takes time,But time or money.It's your choise.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 12:09AM
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