Soil testing

Asked June 22, 2018, 10:04 AM EDT

My garden club does all the gardening at the Potomac Library. The county is installing more handicaped parking. New planting areas have been created which the club will plant. The contractor paid for top soil from RELS on Layhill Rd. The soil is very light brown and looks like the fill dirt they sell. The company insists it is top soil. It certainly doesn’t look like any top soil I have seen in 70+ years ot gardening. Where can I have this soil professionally tested? What is the definition of top soil to be sold legally as such in Montgomery County?

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Top soil is not regulated, or defined, in Maryland. It is buyer beware, so we always recommend checking the delivery before it is unloaded when possible.

You could ask the company for soil test reports and information on the origin and quality of the topsoil.

Alternatively, you can also test the topsoil for organic matter yourself. (Search 'soil testing' on our website for instructions and labs.) A 5% organic matter soil is considered good for a home garden.

A business that produces and sells a compost/topsoil mixture (often 70% topsoil; 30% compost) is probably what you are more familiar with. If purchased topsoil has no added compost, we recommend adding at least 2-inches of compost.