Topsoil selection – choosing a suitable grade and quality product

What differentiates one type of topsoil from another and why would one be suitable for home-grown produce but another unsuitable? 

Classification of topsoils is based on several different characteristics, from structure and fertility to content and chemical composition. It is largely influenced by the source of the product and its raw materials.

Soil suitability and safety can and should be analysed by the manufacturer to check for potentially toxic elements which can adversely affect plant health, often causing plant failure. For example, the analysis can highlight high pH levels, elevated levels of salt concentration and potassium or excessively high sand contents.

With all this in mind, we’ve shared below some important points to consider when choosing topsoil.

What gardening or landscaping scheme will the topsoil be used for?

Before anything else, consider the project and the outcome you require. The nutrient content, level of organic matter, sand vs loam ratio, pH level, the presence of soil conditioners will all vary according to what you will be using the soil for.

For example, topsoil for laying turf or seeding a lawn needs to have a higher percentage of sand than a blended loam which is being used for general landscaping purposes.

With your objectives determined, apply the following checks:

  • Has the the composition of the soil been analysed? Thorough analysis would include checks for potentially toxic elements and other substances which could impact the effectiveness of your project.
  • Where were its raw materials sourced from?
  • Has it been certified as meeting the British Standard BS 3882:2015, with suitability for residential home-grown use confirmed and can the supplier evidence this?
  • Ensure the soil has undergone thorough analysis for suitability, including checks for Potentially Toxic Elements.
  • Do the supplier’s quality and environmental management systems have certification for BS EN ISO 9001:2015 and BS EN ISO 14001:2015?

We would only recommend purchasing from suppliers who can satisfactorily provide this information and proof of certification.

Hallstone Blended Loam Topsoil is consistently tested to ensure that it meets the British Standard BS3882:2015 and is certified as suitable for residential home-grown use.