There are so many different types of soils available to purchase at garden centres that it can be hard to know which soil is best for which purpose. Check with your local garden centre on their specific stock availability. Here is a quick breakdown of the general soil mixes which may be available:
Also known as a three-way mix garden soil is the perfect blend of soils and organic matter. Suitable for all types of projects, garden soil is ideal for general garden beds, garden renovations and top-ups and for improving poor soil. Trees, shrubs, general gardens and even Australian natives will perform well with garden soil. Essentially, a three way mix is a blend of two soil types and organic matter and should have a pH of 6 – 7.5.
An ideal organic mixture formulated for growing lawn seed, used as instant turf underlay and top dressing. Lawn mix is a fine grain soil/sand blend with moderate to low organic matter, meaning great drainage, great stability and minimal slump under lawns. This soil is not recommended for general planting, garden beds etc. as it can set a little hard and has very low organic matter. The pH of this soil should be between 5.5 – 6.5.
A soil/compost mix, perfect for getting your edible garden started. The blend is 2/3 garden soil to 1/3 mushroom compost and has a great nutrient content, excellent water holding capacity and is the perfect mix for your vegie patch, fruit trees, roses and flowering annuals. Providing gentle feeding for those hungry annuals and fruiting plants, vegie mix should be well blended, and ready to plant into straight away! The pH of this soil should be 6.5 – 7.5.
As the name suggests, turf sand is a sand based product with a hint of organic matter and soil ideal for base preparation under instant or roll out lawns. Boasting great drainage, minimal slump, and low organic matter, this product is screened and blended and has a pH of 5 – 6. This product is generally utilised by landscapers and is not suitable for any other application.
Chicken/ Chook manure is a fertiliser that has been around for as long as chooks. Chook manure is an excellent source of nutrients with lots of beneficial microorganisms and should be incorporated into your fertiliser program. It is a fertiliser as well as a soil improver and it great for all soil types. Using chook manure in your compost bin is a great idea as the combination of nutrients in chook manure and the organic material in your compost will increase the good organisms and bacteria.
This will now help break down your compost faster. Your finished compost will greatly accelerate the growth of your vegetable garden and is a boost for your flowers and shrubs.
When buying cow manure, ensure it is 100% cow manure straight from a dairy farm, that’s been aged and graded to make it finer and easier to manage. Cow manure tends to have a low nutrient analysis because, like sheep manure, it comes from animals grazing on grass. This makes it great as a general purpose soil conditioner and great for phosphorous-sensitive native plants when it’s well aged.
Composed of straw, wood shavings, aged manures, gypsum and a little limestone, mushroom compost is a popular product for digging into your garden beds. It is a by-product of the mushroom growing industry. A rich source of organic matter and manures, mushroom compost is suitable for use in most garden beds. Mushroom compost, mixed with existing garden soil will increase organic matter levels, improve soil moisture retention and provide a range of nutrients. It will also encourage worms and reduce soil compaction. It is perfect for roses and edibles.
You cannot plant directly into mushroom compost as there is a risk of “burning” plants. Mix the mushroom compost through existing soil before planting. If you require a planting blend you can use immediately, utilise a pre-mixed vegie mix.
Organic Soil Improver
Organic soil improver is high in organic matter. It adds nutrients to existing soil by accelerating and enhancing plant growth thus allowing the plants’ root systems to move more freely and absorb more nutrients. Comprised of composted green waste and fibrous material, it also improves the soils ability to retain moisture while minimising temperature fluctuation of soil and plant roots. It is recommended that this product be blended through the existing soil to minimise risk of “burning” sensitive plant roots. It is not recommended for native gardens.
To assist you in discovering what soil type you might have in your backyard and how to work best with what you have, read our articles on –
- What is soil?
- What soil can I expect to find in my backyard?
- Get to Know Your Soil with pH testing
- Caring for your soil
- Improving your soil
- Potting Mix versus Garden Soil
Information in the soil series articles provided by Helen Tuton