Your garden and lawn are only as healthy as the soil. Topsoil is an organic, matter-rich soil. It's an important component in growing soil, but it's often missing from home yards due to building and depletion.
1. Save What You Can
If you are having work done in the yard or clearing an area for a new garden bed, it can be helpful to save as much of the native topsoil as possible. Carefully scoop it into a wheelbarrow or onto a tarp and cart it to a protected area of the yard until you are done with the work. Cover the topsoil with a second tarp to keep it from blowing away. You may also wish to water it so it remains damp, which will keep the healthy soil microbes alive.
2. Get the Right Blend
When purchasing topsoil, blend matters. If your area has good soil, it may be best to purchase a local topsoil blend that is harvested near your home. This way, the soil biome will already be well adapted to your area. For poorer soils, look for improved topsoils. These typically contain higher amounts of organic matter and sometimes a bit of sand, which helps improve hard clay soils. Those formulated for sandy soil will have higher organic material without added sand.
3. Apply It Deep
A shallow layer of one or two inches won't suffice, as this will quickly become lost to simple surface erosion. It's best to lay topsoil 4 to 6 inches deep on top of cultivated soil, then mix it in a couple of inches with the soil beneath. This method supplies enough topsoil that minor erosion isn't a concern, as well as ensuring that the topsoil is well integrated into the main soil base.
4. Add Some Nutrients
Topsoil contains a few base nutrients, but not enough to build a new garden bed or lawn upon. For this reason, many people combine topsoil application with a compost. First, they apply a few inches of compost over the top of the prepared planting area, following this up with any fertilizers that are being used. The compost and fertilizer are tilled into the top 6 inches of soil, then the layer of topsoil is applied over the top and shallowly worked in.
5. Anchor It Well
Wind and water runoff can carry away topsoil until plant roots grow enough to anchor it. It's a good idea to apply mulch, such as wood chips or straw, over newly prepared topsoil sites. If you will be planting a lawn, keep the soil damp so that it won't erode before the grass takes root and holds it in place.
Contact a topsoil provider for more assistance when you are ready to build up the soil in your yard or garden.