Fill Dirt Versus Topsoil? Know Which Is Better And Why?

Are you making a garden and having confusions between fill dirt vs. topsoil? Which should you use and why?

Anyone needing soil to fill up patches in his garden may come across this question once in a while. Both types not only vary in their effects on plants, but vary in prices too.

Why Choosing From These Two Soils Matter?

Both topsoil and fill dirt serve different needs and functions. While establishing your plants, a proper care should be taken on selecting the type of soil since both can have different effects on the plants. A good combination of both might help to make your garden healthier.

What Is Fill Dirt?

fill dirt vs topsoil

Fill dirt usually resides below the top layer of soil; it is a type of dirt which has the tendency to shift. It is made up of broken rocks, clay and sand particles. It does not contain any kind of organic material. Fill dirt is without voids between its particles. It is steady, and therefore it can be easily used as filler.

What Is Topsoil?

fill dirt vs topsoil

Topsoil is the healthy, nutrient rich layer of the top part of the soil. It is usually taken from places where the soil has been dug up for any purposes. It contains huge amount of organic matter. This organic matter usually makes the soil black, but being rich in minerals and nutrients it is ideal for plants to expand their roots and grow.

The best type of topsoil is the one that does not have too much organic material and have loamy or sandy texture.

What Are The Differences In The Composition Of Both Soils?

Fill dirt has lots of constituents ranging from small rocks and roots to large clay clumps. Though filtered fill dirt is clean and doesn't contain debris, but it is more expensive as compared to normal fill dirt. While buying fill dirt, make sure to buy dirt with adequate amount of nutrients.

fill dirt vs topsoil

Topsoil, usually is free from any kind of debris and is usually collected from the top few inches of the ground. Topsoil is rich in minerals and nutrients, but its constituents are not always guaranteed to be same everywhere as the top part of soil tends to change as per the location.

An area coming under forest region may have top soil heavily rich in organic material whereas topsoil coming from the region where industrial work is going on will tend to have low or no amount of organic content. So before buying topsoil, you should always check for its mineral values.

What Are The Uses Of Both Types Of Soils?

Both soils have their different uses. Fill dirt is mostly used to fill up large portions of empty land areas such as a former dug up hole or a swimming pool hole, a natural uneven crater like structure which needs to be made plane, whereas the topsoil is used to fill the upper layer of the soil to provide the plants with a good base to grow. It is mostly used to provide proper foundation for plants and is also used in filling garden spots to establish new plants.

Which Soil Type Is Better For You?

fill dirt vs topsoil

Choosing among the two soil types can be difficult, but once you know the requirements of your garden, the minerals and nutrients they lack in, you can easily select the type of soil you need, which will help to provide those nutrients or minerals.

Customizing soil on the basis of order can prove to be a good step since your garden can benefit from the combined use of topsoil and fill dirt. Like, if your garden has high water content, you can use fill dirt with more sand content so as to drain the water quickly. And if your garden has lack of water, you can use topsoil with clay texture that will help you to retain water in it.

​How To Choose A Particular Soil?

While choosing a particular soil, you need to keep in mind the needs of your garden. While choosing topsoil, make sure it is a screened mixture of sand, clay and adequate amount of organic material with a pH level required by healthy growth of plants.

Most of the plants require a pH level of 6 to 7 for their fast growth. Always try to avoid non-certified topsoil. Similarly while choosing Fill dirt, try to avoid buying the dirt which is too loose or too tight, as they may cause problems mixing with your existing garden soil.


Choosing a soil can be difficult at times, but doing a soil test before buying a particular soil type will help you understand the needs of your garden. While choosing soil type, keep in mind the following points:

  • For filling up large holes or craters, use fill dirt.
  • For providing a good base to your plants to grow, use topsoil.
  • You can use both soils in your garden for their respective functions, but try to mix them thoroughly.
  • Avoid buying too loose or too tight fill dirt, as it may not mix well together.

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fill dirt vs topsoil