Topsoil Vs Fill Dirt: What Your Lawn Needs

There are many different types of top soil amendments and dirt, and Fill Dirt and Topsoil are two that you may be interested in. Fill Dirt is a great option for filling in low areas on your lawn, while Topsoil is better suited for planting grass seed or other plants.

Fill Dirt can be more expensive than Topsoil because it has to be trucked in from somewhere else. Fill Dirt also takes longer to settle before you can plant anything into it, which means you will have to wait much longer before your yard looks beautiful again.

The question is, should you use soil or topsoil for your project? Although dirt isn’t something we frequently consider, it’s important to make a decision based on your needs. 

You could think of dirt as referring to farmers who produce our food, or dirt that is used to build buildings and roads. There are several reasons why dirt vs topsoil is an important decision. Read this blog so you can make the right decision.

topsoil fill dirt is a good option

Table of Contents

Topsoil Vs Fill Dirt

Topsoil is a type of soil that contains organic matter and is commonly used in gardening and for growing grass. However, due to its composition, topsoil is prone to shifting and settling over time. Fill dirt, on the other hand, is a more stable material that is made up of natural materials such as rock, sand, and shale. It is typically used to fill holes or adjust the elevation of a property. While topsoil is nutrient-rich and ideal for gardening purposes, fill dirt is a better option for filling in areas that require stability and support.

fill dirt vs top soil in the open

Choosing the right dirt

Dirt is not simply dirt. The sort of dirt you pick for your project has a significant impact. The reason top soil is available separately from fill dirt is that they serve different purposes and goals. 

You probably wouldn’t consider using topsoil to construct your house, and you’d be hard-pressed to think of a use for this kind of dirt in your garden.

Different outcomes can be obtained from various sorts of dirt for each job. If you don’t know what sort of fill dirt or topsoil is needed for your project, the outcome may disappoint you. 

This might result in additional time and money being spent to update your completed work.

landscaping project

What is topsoil?

Topsoil is also known as garden soil. It’s made up of decomposing plant and animal matter, which means it has the nutrients needed to support plants in most areas that are exposed to sunlight.

Topsoil is available at any home improvement store or nursery, but you may have better results from a specialized supplier who can help you determine if your dirt meets regional standards for use by plants.

organic matter

What can topsoil be used for?

Topsoil is great for growing plants in gardens, containers, or new lawns. It can also be used to fill in low areas on your property that don’t drain well. Topsoil should not be used as a backfill material because it doesn’t have the same strength as other materials and may result in future problems.

Take a Sampling to Your Ideal Suppliers

If your land is sandy or contains clay, you’ll probably need to bring a sample of the dirt. Your supplier can assist you with selecting the appropriate topsoil for your property.

Handling of Topsoil

To ensure that no significant pieces, rocks, twigs, clumps, roots, or other debris of plant life are left in the dirt, you must screen it. Anything that is left in the dirt might jeopardize its purity.

top layer

What is Fill Dirt?

Fill dirt is soil or earth that has been excavated from elsewhere on your property or another location. 

Fill dirt can be used for low spots in your yard where water collects and grass struggles to grow, but it must first settle before you’re able to work with it. 

Fill Dirt also contains rocks, so if you are planning a new garden space, fill dirt may not provide the best environment for plants.

What can fill dirt be used for?

Fill dirt is a great material to use for filling in low areas on your property. It can also be used as a backfill around foundations and poles, for landscaping projects but it’s important that you wait for the fill dirt to settle before using it.

Fill dirt should not be used in new garden spaces because it doesn’t have the nutrients needed for plants to grow.

Where can you purchase fill dirt?

When buying fill dirt for construction projects, make sure you get dirt that has been thoroughly cleaned and meets local regulations. Examine the dirt to be certain there are no large chunks of dirt or other debris that could restrict its usefulness. To assure that no poisons, chemicals, or by-products are included in the filler dirt, most of it is cleaned.

fill dirt in wheelbarrow

Overview of Uses of Topsoil

  • Foundation – Fill dirt is used to set up a solid foundation for buildings or other locations that need stability and are unlikely to shift or relocate. For longevity, roads and driveways are generally built using fill dirt as a base.

  • Raising planting beds – Fill dirt is also a popular choice for raising planting beds. When filled in and compacted, it can create an ideal surface on which to grow flowers, plants, or vegetables.

  • Pipe trenches – Fill dirt is often chosen as the material of choice for pipe trenches because it’s easy to work with and can be shaped around curves relatively easily.

  • Levelling off land – Fill dirt can be used as a levelling agent all over your property.

  • Securing ground around retaining walls – Fill dirt can also be used as a foundation for retaining walls. Fill dirt is an inexpensive alternative to concrete and doesn’t need any special equipment or machinery, so it’s easy to transport around your property.

  • Building up the ground around foundations to fix water drainage problems – Fill dirt is often used where properties have drainage problems.

plant growth

Overview of Uses of Fill Dirt

  • Growing Your Garden / Lawn – Topsoil is the best type of soil to use when growing plants in an exposed area. It has all the nutrients they need to get started and can easily be supplemented with fertilizers if needed.

  • Landscaping – Topsoil is also a popular choice for landscaping because it’s easy to work with and looks great. When used in conjunction with mulch, it can keep plants healthy and looking great all year round.

  • Re-establishing Grass – If you’re wanting to re-establish grass in an area that’s been empty for a while, topsoil is the way to go. It has all the nutrients grass needs to get started and will help fill in any bald patches relatively quickly.

  • Good Drainage – Topsoil is also great for improving drainage in low-lying areas of your property.

  • For Those Low Points – Take a look at your landscaping; you’re likely to find several sunken areas that are difficult to mow or low areas that fill up during rain or snow. These holes frequently alter the appearance of your lawn. To create a smoother environment in your yard, topsoil is sometimes spread over these depressions to allow new grass growth.

fill dirt for pipe trench


In conclusion, while both topsoil and fill dirt are composed of natural materials, they serve different purposes. Topsoil is rich in nutrients and ideal for gardening and growing grass, but it is prone to shifting and settling over time. On the other hand, fill dirt is a more stable material that is used to fill holes or adjust property elevation. While it may not be as nutrient-rich as topsoil, fill dirt is a better option for areas that require stability and support. Ultimately, the choice between topsoil and fill dirt depends on the intended use and needs of the project.

clean fill dirt

People also ask

What kind of dirt should I use to fill holes in yard?

Blend planting soil with sand or compost to fill in lawn ruts and gaps. Typically, combining equal amounts of each ingredient creates a combination that allows grass to grow effectively through the mix into existing soil.

If you are wondering why holes are appearing in your lawn overnight, have a read of an article that we wrote that covers this.

What do you put under topsoil?

The subsoil, which is the layer beneath the topsoil, lacks as much organic material and is generally of lesser quality than the topsoil. The undesirable soil on top may be replaced with topsoil to improve the chances of healthy plant growth and your lawn thriving.

Can you have too much topsoil?

You should probably add another 3-6 inches of topsoil before planting. You can’t go wrong with too much. Having too little soil is far more dangerous.

too much topsoil

How long does it take for grass to grow from topsoil?

It depends on a number of factors, such as soil fertility, the type of grass you’re growing and the climate. In general, it will take several weeks for new grass to start growing from topsoil.

Can you lay topsoil over gravel?

It is feasible to cover a vast area of gravel with organic material such as topsoil and grow a productive garden or healthy lawn when you need that land for agricultural usage. It is possible to lay turf over the gravel and cultivate a productive garden, flower beds or lush lawn. In any grass or yard, the topsoil necessary for any grass or yard is 2 to 10 inches.

How do I fix a lumpy lawn?

Topsoil will help to patch the holes in your lawn. Fill any low areas with topsoil and smooth out the surface before adding grass seed or sod.

Want to learn how to level an uneven lawn? Have a read of a blog that we wrote that explains what to do in detail.

lumps appearing in lawn

Does topsoil need to be compacted?

No, topsoil does not need to be compacted. In fact, it’s best if the soil is left loose so that roots have space to grow and expand through your lawn.

Should I tamp topsoil?

It’s not necessary to tamp or compress your topsoil unless you want a specific soil consistency for an area. It would be best if the potting soil is left loose so that roots have space to grow and expand through your lawn.

Should I put topsoil down before it rains?

Wait one day after the rain to prepare your garden for topsoil. Rain softens existing soil, making it easier to dig up. Avoid preparing the soil immediately following a rainfall because anything might get mucky if you try to use it right away.

plants thrive
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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