When to buy topsoil and mulch, and how to know yours is good

Topsoil and mulch

Good quality topsoil and mulch are among the most important factors contributing to a healthy garden.

For healthy growth, you have to feed your plants and protect them from unwelcoming conditions.

Topsoil and mulch (along with water and sunlight) take care of the feeding.

So how do you know the topsoil and mulch combo your landscape supply store offers is good for your greenery?

Learn what makes a good topsoil and mulch team so you can ask the right questions from your supplier.

Topsoil, literally the top soil

Topsoil is full of vitamins, nutrients and organisms that help plants grow strong and thrive. Good topsoil is teeming with it all.

Generally, all this good stuff rests in the top several inches of soil. So good quality topsoil comes from the most productive part of soil, the top.

Inside your rich topsoil, you will find:

  • Microorganisms
  • Minerals
  • Insects
  • Earthworms
  • Organics
  • Water
  • Air pockets

Together, these ingredients keep the soil healthy and feed your plants.

How to spot good quality topsoil

Topsoil mound

Spotting good quality topsoil for your landscaping projects is easy if you know what to look for.

  • Colour: Excellent topsoil should be dark brown or black. Dark colours mean the soil is rich in organic matter.
  • Odour: Fresh topsoil should have a sweet smell to it. If it smells old, musky and stale, it’s past its prime. That’s the smell of decaying organics.
  • Texture: Grab a handful of topsoil and squeeze it into a ball. When you open up your hand, the soil should easily crumble apart. You don’t want to create a mud ball.
  • Fragments: If you easily see big stones, weeds or unwanted seeds in your topsoil, stay away.

When you feel good about your topsoil, move on to the mulch you use to finish your garden.

Natural mulch or rubber mulch?

Wheelbarrow Full of Mulch

Cover your topsoil in a layer of mulch to reduce soil erosion, lock in moisture and nutrients, and grow your plants faster.

You can buy natural or rubber mulch from some landscape suppliers.

We only carry natural mulch because we believe it’s the best choice for homeowners and landscapers building a garden in harmony with nature.

What do you get with natural mulch?

  • It contributes to the long term health of your soil and plants. Unlike rubber mulch, natural mulch decomposes over time, lending its nutrients to the soil below. This means you have to replace natural mulch regularly (every couple years is good), but your plants will grow more vigorously year after year.
  • Your environmental impact is lower than if you used rubber mulch. Petroleum is a main component of rubber mulch, and heavy metals can leach into the environment. Natural mulch is a renewable, sustainable product.
  • The earthy appearance you want in a garden. Natural mulch decomposes and fades over time. Some homeowners prefer non-fading rubber mulch. We prefer shredded bark mulch (natural mulch) because it looks less manufactured and ages like it would in nature.
  • Your organic veggie garden benefits as much from natural mulch as your flower beds, shrubs and trees. It’s a versatile product that enhances every outdoor planting space.

Now is a great time to buy mulch and topsoil for your summer garden. There’s lots of time for growing and admiring the colours, birds, bees, pesky squirrels and more in your private oasis.

Visit your nearest Grand River Stone location to stock up on your mulch and topsoil today.

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