What Can I Do With Extra Potting Soil? (Garden Advice)

I’m sure you’ve got some extra potting soil lying around. Perhaps there’s a bag under your sink, leftover from the last time you planted a small herb garden. 

Or maybe, like me, you’ve got an entire bin in the garage that just won’t go away no matter how many times it gets used up. 

Whatever the case may be, I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of ways to use your excess potting soil and most of them don’t involve throwing it out! Here are some tips for using up your excess potting soil:

Key Takeaways
Potting soil is a soilless blend of organic matter and other materials used for growing plants in containers.
Old potting soil can be repurposed for use in outdoor garden beds, as a filler, or in compost.
Refreshing old potting soil with compost, fertilizer, and other amendments can make it usable for another season.
Potting soil that smells bad or is infested with pests should be discarded.
It’s recommended to replace potting soil every 1-2 years or when it becomes depleted of nutrients.
Used potting soil can be composted, but it’s important to add other compostable materials and turn the pile regularly.

Seedling Starter

There are a number of ways to use extra potting soil for your seedlings. In addition to using it as a top dressing, you can add some extra potting soil to your seedling starter before planting your seeds. 

This will help keep the soil moist, warm and healthy for your future plants.

You can also remove some of the extra potting soil from inside of the starter once seeds start to sprout so that they have room to grow.

“Wondering if you can reuse your garden soil? Our article on ‘Can Garden Soil Be Reused?’ explains everything you need to know about repurposing garden soil and getting the most out of your gardening efforts.” – Can Garden Soil Be Reused?

Compost Booster

Compost is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that improves the quality of potting soil. It can also be used as a standalone planting medium, though some people prefer to mix it with potting soil or other ingredients to create custom blends. 

Composting is easy to do at home with minimal equipment, but you can also buy compost from retailers in bulk if you don’t have access to the right amount at home.

Adding compost to your potted plants’ soil will improve drainage and texture while also increasing the nitrogen content (great for plants like tomatoes). 

When added in small amounts (between 1/2 cup and 3 cups), it’s less likely that your plant will become overfed by too much nitrogen. Larger quantities may cause root burn if they’re incorporated into regular potting mix without first being mixed together with existing soil.

Aeration For Potted Plants

In addition to using potting soil in your garden, you can also use it to help aerate potted plants. If you have a plant that is doing well in its current pot but the roots are starting to become waterlogged and weigh down the plant, try moving it into a larger pot with more drainage holes. Potting soil works great for this because it allows air flow while still remaining moist. 

For example, when I grew water lilies outside they did really well but sometimes became waterlogged by mid-summer due to our heavy rains. They would start growing out of control and eventually fall over from the weight of their large leaves and flowers.

“Not sure how to tell if your potting soil has gone bad? Our article on ‘How Do You Know If Potting Soil Is Bad?’ has you covered with tips on how to spot soil that’s past its prime.” – How Do You Know If Potting Soil Is Bad?

When this happens you can use potting soil as an alternative means of aerating them without having to disturb their roots too much by transplanting them into another container altogether (which takes time). 

Simply remove some of the excess water from around each root ball before placing them in larger pots filled with about half an inch (1cm) of quality composted manure or leaf mold with drainage holes at least 2 inches deep (5cm). 

Then fill up around them with good quality topsoil until they are level with surrounding ground level which should allow enough room for watering without watering too much at once!

Succulent Transplanting

You can use the extra potting soil to transplant succulents. Succulents are easy to grow, drought-tolerant, and low maintenance (which is why they make great houseplants). 

They are often used in landscape design because of their hardiness and attractive appearance.

If you’ve got some succulents that have outgrown their pots and need a new home, there’s no need to worry—you can just dig them up with some extra potting soil from the bag in your garage or basement!

“Making your own potting mix is a great way to save money and ensure that your indoor plants have the right nutrients. Check out our article on ‘What Is the Best Way to Make Potting Mix for Indoor Plants?’ for tips on creating the perfect mix.” – What Is the Best Way to Make Potting Mix for Indoor Plants?

Wildflower Jumpstart

Wildflowers are an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance way to brighten your yard. They look beautiful and they’re great for the environment as well as pollinators like bees and butterflies.

If you have extra potting soil, you can use it to create a wildflower jumpstart in your garden or backyard. Wildflower jumpstarts are easy to make, require little maintenance and provide food for pollinators.

Garden Soil Amendment

Make a compost pile. Composting is an excellent way to recycle your garden waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Start by layering organic materials, such as leaves or grass clippings, with vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and other organic material. 

Use shredded newspaper or other paper products to help keep the pile damp while it decomposes. You’ll know when it’s ready when it has a pleasant earthy smell and crumbly texture similar to potting soil.

Add a layer of topsoil over existing concrete patios or driveways to increase drainage and aeration while reducing the need for regular watering during dry spells (which can cause cracks in hard surfaces). 

Topsoil will also improve drainage around trees by preventing them from settling into compacted subsoils beneath them.

“Looking to get rid of extra potting soil? Our article on ‘How to Sell Your Own Potting Soil’ offers pro tips on marketing and selling your excess soil to make a profit.” – How to Sell Your Own Potting Soil

Homemade Potting Soil For Self-Watering Planters

If you’re looking to make your own potting soil, there are several different ratios of ingredients that you can use.

Potting soil with a high sand content is easy to find at most garden centers and tends to be the least expensive option. 

If you opt for this option, add compost and peat moss to increase the water retention capacity of your homemade potting soil.

To make a homemade potting soil with a high clay content, start by mixing equal parts compost and perlite (a mineral granule), then mix in sand until it reaches the desired consistency.

For more peat moss–based options, consider using half perlite mixed with equal parts compost or vermiculite and peat moss mixed together until they form a loose but firm mixture that has good drainage properties.*

Raised Bed Filler

Use your extra potting soil as a filler for low spots in your raised beds. If you notice that there are dips and depressions in your garden, or if the soil has settled over time, you can use some of this excess soil to fill in those spaces.

Use it as mulch around plants and trees. You can spread potting soil around the base of plants to help with drainage, or simply use it to conceal exposed root systems. 

This will keep moisture from being lost through evaporation under the plant and prevent weeds from growing up through the roots.

“Knowing when to replace your potting soil is key to keeping your plants healthy and thriving. Our article on ‘How Often Should You Replace Your Potting Soil?’ offers guidance on when it’s time to refresh your soil for optimal plant growth.” – How Often Should You Replace Your Potting Soil?


Potting soil is a versatile product that can be repurposed in many ways. It’s easy to use and cost effective, making it a great choice for anyone looking to save money on mulch in their yard or garden. With these ideas, you’ll never have to throw away any more potting soil again!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to learn more about potting soil and gardening:

What to Do with Old Potting Soil: This article offers creative ideas for repurposing old potting soil, including using it as a filler or amendment for outdoor garden beds.

What to Do with Old Potting Soil: 5 Ways to Reuse It: This article provides tips on how to reuse old potting soil in a variety of ways, including for seed starting and in compost.


What is potting soil?

Potting soil, also known as potting mix, is a soilless blend of organic matter and other materials used for growing plants in containers.

Can I reuse potting soil from last season?

Yes, you can reuse potting soil from last season, but it’s important to refresh it first by adding compost, fertilizer, and other amendments.

How do I know if my potting soil is bad?

Potting soil that smells bad or is infested with pests is likely bad and should be discarded. Soil that is old and depleted of nutrients may also need to be replaced.

How often should I replace my potting soil?

It’s recommended to replace potting soil every 1-2 years, or whenever it becomes depleted of nutrients and starts to break down.

Can I compost used potting soil?

Yes, you can compost used potting soil, but it’s important to add other compostable materials and turn the pile regularly to ensure it breaks down properly.