Garden Soil Vs Potting Mix – What Are the Differences?

It is wise to distinguish between the two soil varieties to ensure a positive impact on plant growth. Many times we end up using soil without even knowing if it is suitable or not.

Do you want to know what happens afterward? Take frequent deficiencies of various elements, for instance. Or excessive water retaining where it is not needed, underdeveloped roots, and more.

So what usually happens is that your mind goes into eternal blankness as you try to decide between the two. Let’s not allow that anymore. The following information will give you all the tidbits about both soil types.

Learn more about where and why you should utilize them! 

Garden Soil


Like the name suggests, garden soil contains natural nutrition and organic matters that are easy to come by. It is not topsoil, though upon mixed with can enrich the garden beds tremendously.

You can find such soil either in your backyard or purchase large bags of soil from the marketplace. Being affordable makes it more accessible to the gardeners who have spacious vegetation areas.

Keep in mind that garden soils can be of several kinds. The type you choose will depend on the planting intention you have. If you are still confused about topsoil and garden soil, here is a way to distinguish them.

Topsoil is the dirt from the first 2-feet of the earth. Garden soil is when the manufacturers mix topsoil with various other natural nutrients and elements in ratios.

Always read the label on the packages to prevent mistakes.

Benefits of Garden Soil


Suppose you plan to form garden beds in the yard. However, you do not know what materials are present in the existing soil and what is missing.

After an initial soil test, you can decide what percentage of compost and soil your garden will require. So always find the missing materials before adding them to the beds.

This type of soil is ideal for vegetable, flower, or fruit plantations. Therefore, you should use them without any worry in your lawns/yards.

Utilize the garden soil when it is time for yearly maintenance. Planting new flower beds also need rich soil application, so do it with this kind.

Besides, it can be a great form of ingredient to add when creating your personal potting mix.

Drawbacks of Garden Soil


However, the disadvantage of the garden soil is that they are not suitable for containers. Since it comprises only organic and natural elements, the soil is prone to be heavier and dense for pots.

At one point, the soil slowly diminishes any chance of regular drainage, making it difficult for the roots to grow or breathe.

Potting Mix


Before you get to this part, potting mix and potting soil are the same things. So do not panic.

Why do we call this soil a mix? It is due to the various types of materials blended in the package. These materials help increase drainage properties while leaving enough room for the roots to breathe.

Most blends include bark, perlite, vermiculite, coir, sphagnum moss, composts, etc. however, the ironic thing is the potting mix contains no soil.

As surprising as it sounds, the valid reason is to prevent fungus formation. Other similar pathogens could infect the plants in this mix if the soil were to add as well.

Benefits of Potting Mix


Always apply the potting mix in a container only. It is in such limited space this mixture feeds the plants effectively. One large bag is sufficient for several small potted plants.

This blend is not compact, not too loose either. The perlite or vermiculite materials play big parts in such activity. In short, potting mix is more like a lifesaver or breather of the plants you grow indoors.

Therefore, your flowers/plants access plenty of room for air circulation and drainage. It is one of the many reasons why potting soil is considered versatile. You can select from various ranges of blends to meet the different plant groups. 

There are options for roses, herbs, succulents, and many more. Besides, it contains the perfect soil structure to grow any seed. Some mixtures even add formulated fertilizers, so you do not have to get that separately.

Drawbacks of Potting Mix


You cannot utilize it on garden beds. Potting mixes are expensive; it would be pointless to hoard 20 of them for a couple of flower beds. Also, try not to use them in the yard or lawn with plants either.

They are not apt to keep these greens and flowers healthy all seasons. Plus, they cannot retain water for an extended period that is essential for the raised beds.

Garden Soil Vs Potting Mix?


So have you figured the difference between garden soil and potting mix? Here is a brief note:

  • The potting mix does not work in the garden and vice versa for the garden soil.
  • Potting mix is for pots and containers, while garden soil is for, well, garden.
  • Garden soil contains natural elements and a high amount of composts.
  • The potting mix comprises blended materials along with calculated chemical elements.
  • Garden soil is cheaper than potting mix.
  • The garden soil is more compact, perfect for outdoor vegetation.
  • Potting mix is ready to use out of the bag, whereas garden soil requires digging and tilling before planting.
  • While the potting mix is best for houseplants, garden soil is an economical choice for spacious, outdoor garden space.
  • You can add a little portion of garden soil to potting mix, but it is not possible the other way round. 
  • The pH level is high or changeable in garden soil; however, it is fixed in potting mix.

Final Words

Once you digest the article with an open mind, you will see that it is not so difficult at all! The dreading confusion will immediately dissipate – you will eventually see the distinctions without feeling mushy in the brain.

Hopefully, we were able to help you reach that point. Our only suggestion is to read the packaging label before purchasing any soil from the markets.

Lastly, happy planting!    

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