Are Garden Soil And Potting Soil The Same?

As a gardener, have you ever wondered about the differences between garden soil and potting soil? Our latest blog post breaks down the distinctions between these two essential components of a successful garden.

Uncover the unique properties of each and how they impact your plants’ growth, while also learning about testing the pH of potting soil and selecting the best potting mix. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to create the perfect environment for your plants to thrive.

Don’t wait any longer—start exploring the fascinating world of garden and potting soils now!

Garden soil and potting soil are not the same thing.
Garden soil is the natural soil found in your yard while potting soil is a specialized soil blend designed for container gardening.
Potting soil typically contains a higher percentage of organic matter and is lightweight and well-draining.
Garden soil is not recommended for container gardening due to its heaviness and poor drainage.
Garden soil and potting soil can be mixed together to create a custom blend, but it is important to ensure good drainage and avoid a mix that is too heavy.

What Is Potting Soil?

Potting soil is a blend of peat moss, compost, and perlite. It is used to grow plants in containers such as potted plants or hanging baskets. Potting soil is sterile, so it’s safe to use for plants that will be eaten like herbs or salad greens. 

The main difference between potting soil and ordinary garden soil is that potting soil has more fine material like peat moss and perlite added to it. This makes it lighter than regular garden dirt because the air pockets help with water retention.

The term “potting mix” usually refers to a specific brand of commercial potting mix; but most commercial mixes are similar to one another (with some having minor differences). 

If you find yourself needing some quick advice about which brand would work best for your particular situation, check out our guide on choosing the best potting mix for indoor plants here!

“Reduce your carbon footprint and support sustainable practices by recycling your garden soil bags. Check out our article on Are Garden Soil Bags Recyclable to learn more.” – Are Garden Soil Bags Recyclable

What Is Garden Soil?

Garden soil is the top layer of soil in your garden. It’s made up of organic matter, such as compost, manure, and mulch; minerals like clay, sand and silt; 

Air pockets to allow for drainage; plus beneficial microbes that help break down dead plant material into nutrients for plants to use. In short: it’s what you need to grow plants!

What Is Potting Soil?

Potting soil is similar to garden soil but has been sterilized so it doesn’t contain any harmful pests or disease-causing organisms. 

It’s used as an alternative when planting seeds indoors where there isn’t access to outdoor soil (or if you simply don’t want to take up space with a backyard garden).

“Potting soil is an essential component of healthy plant growth. To learn more about its organic matter content and how it affects plant growth, check out our article on Is Potting Soil Considered Organic Matter.” – Is Potting Soil Considered Organic Matter

Is There a Difference Between Garden Soil and Topsoil?

Garden soil: Garden soil is a general term for the soil in your yard. Garden soil can be made up of several different materials and may not have any organic matter or fertilizer added to it. Some garden soils may contain clay or sand, while others might contain rocks or other types of debris.

Topsoil: Topsoil is a layer of soil that contains organic matter, such as compost, peat moss and leaf mold. 

It’s usually only found at lower levels in virgin forests where there has been little disturbance over time by humans or animals; once disturbed it takes centuries to return to its previous state!

Why Use Potting Soil Instead Of Garden Soil?

As you can see, potting soil is designed to be perfect for plants. But why would you ever use garden soil? Garden soil isn’t sterile and doesn’t retain water as well as potting soil. 

This means that garden-soil-based plants will be more likely to suffer from root rot due to the lack of moisture retention, and they may also get infested with pests such as slugs or snails. 

In addition, garden soil is usually heavier than potting mix and therefore harder to handle when watering your plants it falls off the spout of your watering can easily!

Finally, there is the cost: Potting soils are generally more expensive than garden soils. However, if you want healthy plants that grow quickly and look good all year round (without succumbing to disease).

Then investing in the premium quality potting mix may well be worth it especially if you’re growing tomatoes or other highly susceptible crops such as lettuce or carrots!

“Improve the health and quality of your garden soil by incorporating wood chips. Check out our brief explanation on Are Wood Chips Good for Garden Soil to learn more.” – Are Wood Chips Good for Garden Soil

What Can I Add To My Garden Soil To Make It Better?

Some gardeners use compost and soil conditioner to improve their soil. Compost is decomposed organic matter that has been turned into a rich, dark substance by microscopic organisms. 

Soil conditioners like peat moss, leaf mold, and other finely ground organic materials can also be added to garden soil to add nutrients and make it more porous.

If you want to grow plants in containers but your potting soil doesn’t have enough nutrients for them, fertilizing with an organic fertilizer will help bring them back up to speed. 

Organic fertilizers contain things like blood meal, bone meal, kelp meal, and rock phosphate all of which are good sources of phosphorus and nitrogen (the two main nutrient elements plants need). 

You can even find fertilizers specifically made for container gardening if you’re worried about adding too much fertilizer at once because they contain lower levels than regular ones do.

You could also try adding peat moss or coir fiber instead of potting soil if your existing mix is lacking some qualities for example if it has too much sand or clay but these types will likely require additional watering.

Since both products absorb moisture quickly but don’t release it easily so those nutrients won’t reach their destination as quickly as they would otherwise (and neither product contains enough nutrients on its own). 

Peat moss may also need replacing after extended use due to its ability  to break down over time into finer particles that aren’t suitable anymore.”

Do I Need Special Growing Mixes For Seedlings?

You can use seed starting mix to grow your plants from seeds, but it’s not always necessary. You might want to try it if you are nervous about germinating seeds and having them fail.

If you are growing small plants, such as lettuces or herbs, and they will be moving into the ground in a few weeks, using regular garden soil is usually fine. 

However, if you are keeping young seedlings in containers for an extended period (6+ weeks) before transplanting them into their permanent home outside then using potting soil is recommended since this type of growing medium allows for better drainage than regular soil does.

“Maintaining the proper pH level in your potting soil is essential for healthy plant growth. Check out our article on How to Test the pH of Potting Soil for tips and landscape advice.” – How to Test the pH of Potting Soil

Can I Use Potting Soil In My Raised Bed Garden?

Potting soil is not suitable for growing vegetables. Potting soil is not suitable for growing flowers. Potting soil is not suitable for growing herbs. 

Potting soil is not suitable for growing strawberries. These are some of the most common types of plants that you’ll find in raised bed gardens, so it’s easy to see why potting soil isn’t the best choice when trying to grow these kinds of plants!

You can, however, use potting soil in containers on your balcony or patio if you want to grow flowers and herbs such as basil or parsley (which aren’t typically grown outdoors). 

If this sounds like something you’re interested in doing then we recommend using our FoxFarm Happy Frog All Purpose Potting Soil since it has all the nutrients needed by these plants without adding too much extra weight.

Which could cause problems later down the road when transplanting them into their permanent homes outside after winter ends here up north.

Where I live near Toronto Canada which gets cold enough here at night during winter months but stays warm during daytime hours throughout springtime and summertime months!

When Should I Buy Potting Soil Instead Of Making It?

If you’re new to gardening, or if you’re planning on planting a large number of plants, it’s probably best to buy potting soil. You may also want to get potting soil if you don’t have time for the mess and hassle of making your own from scratch.

Potting soil has a more consistent composition than homemade compost layers, but there are still some things that can go wrong with store-bought products.

And that’s why it’s important for beginners who are buying their first potting soils (or people who might be starting over after dry spells) to do some research before buying.

If you’re looking for an easy solution rather than getting into all the details about what makes up good potting soil and how much of each ingredient is recommended by garden experts, take these three tips into consideration:

“Discover the differences between hydroponic and soil plants and learn how to grow plants in soil with our garden advice article on Can Hydroponic Plants Be Planted in Soil.” – Can Hydroponic Plants Be Planted in Soil

Should I Buy Potting Mix Or Gardening Soil When Planting In Containers?

If you’re planting in containers, you’ll want to buy potting soil. It’s more expensive than gardening soil but it’s lighter and easier to carry around. Gardening soil is cheaper but heavier, making it more difficult to move around.


In short, you can use potting soil and garden soil interchangeably, but it’s important to know when to use each. For example, if you’re starting a new garden bed or container and want to add some nutrients into the soil before planting seeds or seedlings, then potting soil is ideal. 

On the other hand, if your goal is just to fill an existing planter with dirt in order to get started right away without adding anything else first then gardening soil would be better suited for this purpose.

Further Reading

Garden Soil vs. Potting Soil: What’s the Difference? – This article provides a comprehensive comparison of garden soil and potting soil, including their composition, uses, and benefits.

Garden Soil vs. Potting Soil – This resource offers a clear explanation of the differences between garden soil and potting soil, along with tips on how to choose the right soil for your plants.


What is garden soil?

Garden soil is the natural soil found in your garden or yard. It is a mixture of organic and inorganic materials and can vary greatly in quality depending on the location.

What is potting soil?

Potting soil, also known as potting mix, is a specially formulated soil blend that is designed for use in containers and pots. It typically contains a higher percentage of organic matter and is lightweight and well-draining.

Can I use garden soil for container gardening?

While garden soil can be used for container gardening, it is not recommended. Garden soil is typically heavier and more compact than potting soil, which can lead to poor drainage and root rot.

Is potting soil more expensive than garden soil?

Potting soil is generally more expensive than garden soil due to its specialized formulation and higher-quality ingredients. However, the cost difference can be offset by the improved plant growth and yield that potting soil provides.

Can garden soil and potting soil be mixed together?

Yes, garden soil and potting soil can be mixed together to create a custom soil blend. However, it is important to ensure that the mixture has good drainage and is not too heavy, as this can cause problems for plant growth.