What’s The Difference Between Dirt And Soil

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While you’re researching the keys to a great garden or backyard, you might see “dirt” and “soil” come up a lot. They’re just different terms for the same stuff, right? 

Not so fast. Although the two terms are used interchangeably, buying a bag of soil and buying a bag of dirt will give you two very different materials for different purposes. The differences between the two are simple, but important to know before you start your next landscaping project. 

Soil Is Alive. Dirt Is Dead.

That’s the basic difference between dirt and soil. So what brings life to soil?

Soil is composed of minerals, nutrients, air, water, and living creatures (plants, small insects, and so on) that serve as the environment for growing and decomposing plant life. Soil is compacted over time and is amassed in different layers.

Dirt does not have any of these living creatures. Usually, if soil is transported to an area where it cannot thrive, the microorganisms and living creatures die. What’s left is clay, sand, or other sedimentary particles that make up the base of both dirt and soil.

How Do I Bring Dirt Back to Life?

By adding organic matter, or compost, you can begin to bring your dirt back to life and make it suitable for gardening and growing plants. By adding earthworms (which you can get at any local garden store), you can speed up the process: earthworms and other microorganisms are responsible for turning organic matter into the nutrients and energy that plants need. 

Uses for Soil and Dirt

Soil (of which there are multiple types) is best for growing plants: the nutrients and microorganisms alive in soil help plants to grow and thrive. Some types of soil are better than others for growing plants, but you will have much better luck growing flowers or vegetables in soil than you will in dirt. 

Dirt has its uses, too, especially in landscaping or preparing a garden. Consider the following projects for which you’ll need quite a bit of dirt:

· Leveling Out a Landscape

· Creating Berms

· Building the Foundation for a Raised Bed

For some of these projects, it’s best to use a dirt base and then add about 1 foot of soil on top to allow plants and grasses to flourish on top of the structures you’re creating.

What If You Have Excess Dirt?

Many gardening or landscaping projects require you to replace dirt with soil. If you’ve got excess dirt in your backyard or property, don’t let it just take up space. Call DirtMatch today and we’ll help you with dirt removal and transporting it to someone who needs it.

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