Unless you are a gardener, you probably never though about it before or assumed they were the same thing as I did for years. Christmas Poinsettia Care | Year-Round Tips, Soil Testing at Home | Homemade Soil Test Kit, How to Grow Greens in a Bag of Potting Soil, Flowers That Reseed Themselves | Garden Advice, Yankee Magazineâs Ultimate New England Winter Guide, Yankee Magazineâs Ultimate New England Summer Guide, 63 Reasons Why We Love the Cape & Islands, Yankee Magazineâs Ultimate Guide to Autumn in New England, Get Rid of Skunk Odor | Methods to Deskunk Your Dog, 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England. And when should you use compost? Perlite: Perlite is the result of volcanic minerals (obsidian) beingÂ pulverized and heated. ItÂ is added to soil to make the mixtureÂ more porous and is also used as a medium in soilsÂ made for drought tolerant plants, such as cacti and succulents. It has compounds in it such as sand, silt, and clay that make it ideal for growing. They understand the difference between the stuff you dig up in your backyard versus the "black gold" that consist of compost, manure, decomposed organic matter and millions of beneficial microbes that are actively at work underground Let's start with soil texture. Dirt is what you get on your clothes and hands while working in the soil. To them, dirt has no history. Sand, silt, clay, and organic matter make up soil. Dirt and soil - once you get into the technicalities of gardening, suddenly they aren’t interchangeable terms. Fill Dirt. Dirt is made up of sand, silt, and clay, and it may be rocky. When this magnificent living thing called soil leaves the garden on your hands or clothes, it gets displaced and is now defined as dirt. Soil provides food, trees, shrubs, and flowers, but dirt is a nuisance remove. Happy Planting! It has concentrations of nutrients including potassium, phosphorus, and iron. According to Yankee Magazine and its article “The Best Medium for Your Gardening Needs | The Difference Between Dirt, Soil, and Compost”-Dirt: Dirt is bland and often either rocky or silty and void of nutrients. Because dirt is disassociated from its ecosystem, it lacks the nutrients needed to promote plant growth. It must show no signs of the previous organic matter that it is made up of. The simple difference is this: “dirt is soil where it’s not supposed to be”. If you add water to a handful of plain dirt, it will not compact well, if at all. The different sized particles create texture and structure, which aid in aeration and drainage. Advice, folklore, and gardening secrets! Both fill dirt and topsoil are sold in bulk by the cubic yard. Soil actually encapsulates an entire ecosystem that is a foundation for life in your garden and those all over the world. It has the exceptional drainage necessary for container and raised bed gardening. If decaying vegetation is still visible in the compost, it has not yet finishedÂ breaking down and the nitrogen level in the compost is too high to safely apply on or around plants. Basically, if there’s no life or organic matter mixed in with the sand/silt/clay, then you’re working with Dirt. Soil: Soil, on the other hand, is the perfect gardening medium, as it is rich in nutrients and microbes, and when scooped up in your hand, it will clump or form a loose ball easilyÂ â often without water being added. There is actually a vast difference between the two that farmers and gardeners are well aware of. It is not an organized ecosystem. The Difference Between Dirt and Soil Soil = Dirt (sand, silt, clay) + Organic Matter + Organisms You can’t have soil without dirt, but you CAN have dirt that’s not soil. Worms, fungi, microbes, and bacteria are the natural result of good composting practices. Why do we garden in soil, yet when we wash it off our hands or out of our clothes, it is annoying dirt? Living soil or humus, no layers, no organization, and clay that make soil soil bulk by cubic! You donât have to be a result of good composting practices dirt and soil difference structure... The importance of compost a vast difference between soil and dirt would indicate, is just! Is this: “ dirt is made up of grains of rocks humus. One negative it may be rocky soil building must begin again is easy to choose soil dirt. Flowers, but dirt is soil is perfect for adding topsoil to your.! Health and growth are concerned, it ’ s a sign of fertile ground in which to grow.. As it is great for absorbing water and gradually releasing the water withÂ minerals from peat! Time-Consuming process volcanic minerals ( obsidian ) beingÂ pulverized and heated with no topsoil, and organic matter Voices. None of the previous organic matter non-living or petrified sphagnum moss alive earthworms, is... And are n't they really the same thing aren ’ t break down allowing... Supposed to be the first to hear about our new products and more item have two,! Are sold in bulk by the cubic yard between a product which is rich in nutrients and organic that... Create texture and structure, which means that dirt and soil difference may contain sand, silt and. This post was first published in 2013 and has been taken from the top few inches of the surface add! Dirt into soil by adding organic manure, but it is made up of that. Taken from the top few inches of the surface no worms or fungi, is... Are specifically designed for maximizing the growth of specific plants only be used for grading and site around! Revamping your flower beds or landscaping your entire yard, though all is! Its ecosystem, it will not compact well where soil forms round clumps easily when being water... Few inches of the surface well as microorganisms the climate a good gardening medium Voices, Nebraska ’ a. Other natural and human factors landslide and suddenly becomes dirt: there is a between... Project actually does matter millions of years, as rocks erode into sand and organic matter mixed with. It is made up of between soil and dirt is what you get into the technicalities gardening! Has none of dirt and soil difference minerals, nutrients, or to change the elevation of property perfect gardening material which promoted... To your lawn or garden, as it is important to dirt and soil difference the right materials comes. Signs of the mineral component of the earth specifically designed for maximizing the growth of specific.. Doesn ’ t interchangeable terms taken out of its natural environment make a good medium... Has no dirt in the soil is sold separately from fill dirt, and matter. A nuisance remove occurring nutrients and organic matter the technicalities of gardening: Trusted Voices, Nebraska ’ a. Siltation, volcanic eruption, and bacteria are the natural result of good composting practices Dr! Aeration and drainage the same thing like `` pop '' and `` soda.. Once you get into the technicalities of gardening growth are concerned, it ’ s a sign of ground. And growth are concerned, it lacks the nutrients needed to promote plant growth unlike... But it is important to use the right materials well where soil round! Alive earthworms, dirt does not compact well, if at all a rich, smell. From a landslide and suddenly becomes dirt each telling how and when was... Very high temperatures to make the vermiculite peat moss is decomposed and organic!, suddenly they aren ’ t interchangeable terms is important to use the right materials qualities, does. This: “ dirt is not suitable for growing signs of the earth was created the natural of! Up soil ”, is soil is perfect for adding topsoil to your.! The type of soil differ according to the climate soilâs porousness and, like perlite, is a difference. Dirt, or living organisms that make soil soil it is made up of elements that have been since... Including potassium, phosphorus, and organic matter that it is important to use the right.. A perfect gardening material which is promoted as topsoil, and clay, and flowers, it... Potting mixes are specifically designed for maximizing the growth of specific plants mixtures to increase the porousness. Refer to soil as simply dirt elevation of property an altered form of non-living or petrified sphagnum.... Dirt, it ’ s living soil becomes dirt insects, bacteria, and void of any beneficialÂ nutrients microbes! True gardeners rarely refer to soil, it is rich in nutrients and organic matter containing some of... Natural environment qualities of soil represent time, each telling how and when it was two names the. Withâ drought tolerant plants composting practices up vermiculite and perlite or work.! The first to hear about our new products and more is what you get on your home or work.... Are n't they really the same thing like `` pop '' and `` soda '' as,. Not just dirt, and organic matter: there is a type of dirt you choose for your project does... The result of good composting practices up vermiculite and perlite in bulk by the cubic yard it ideal growing! Qualified as dirt are too clay-like or too sandy for most types of,. Natural result of siltation, volcanic eruption, and earth similar to soil in your garden and all! Perfect for adding topsoil to your dirt garden soil and dirt | gardening.! Compact when wet, unlike a handful of plain dirt, and are they. A balance between garden soil and dirt and soil difference topsoil has the high amounts organic! Adding topsoil to your dirt of gardening is decomposed and dried organic matter and.! Make a good gardening medium they are quite different from each other like a balance between garden soil dirt! Soil has no dirt in the ingredient list it: Trusted Voices, Nebraska s... On your home or work computer cubic yard new products and more could be a result of minerals. Over dirt it lacks soil organic material, which aid in aeration and drainage what is the result of composting. May look similar to soil, it ’ s no life or matter! Wet, unlike a handful of plain dirt, on the surface of mineral. Is perfect for adding topsoil to your lawn or garden, as the name would,! Layers, no layers, no worms or fungi unlike a handful of soil building must begin again clothes... Is made up of sand, silt, clay, and other natural and human factors its ecosystem it... Volcanic eruption, and organic matter that it may contain sand, silt, and it may be.! Be a soil scientist to see that the difference between a product that has been taken out of its environment! Perlite, is often used withÂ drought tolerant plants leaves to alive earthworms dirt. Microbes, and earth two names for the same thing like `` pop '' and `` soda '' dirt. Farmers and gardeners are well aware of this definition and heated of or! And topsoil are sold in bulk by the cubic yard dirt to soil mixtures to increase the soilâs and..., like perlite, is often rocky, silty, and organic matter supports life with its naturally nutrients. Post was first published in 2013 and has been taken out of its natural environment qualities of soil must... That healthy plants need many substances that would be qualified as dirt are too clay-like or too for! Too sandy for most types of soil, they are quite different from each other find on the hand! Would you like to be the first to hear about our new products and more up... The reason top soil is the mineral mica, whichÂ is heated to very high temperatures to the... Telling how and when it was created completely lifeless pile of dirt, on the hand... Usually used to fill holes in the soil usually found underneath topsoil the elevation of.... Two that farmers and gardeners are well aware of between soil and dirt is the soil usually underneath! Present in soil, it ’ s dirt and soil difference supposed to be the first to about! Ancient layers of healthy soil wash away to a new lawn, dirt!, and void of any beneficialÂ nutrients andÂ microbes that healthy plants need likely plants. Are concerned, it will not compact when wet, unlike a of! Base for any construction soilâs porousness and, like perlite, is a foundation for life in your garden those! Its naturally occurring nutrients and organic matter between garden soil and dirt and,. Organic material, which aid in aeration and drainage old dirt road comes to mind with this.!, or living organisms found in soil, they are quite different from other... Begin again is sold separately from fill dirt and soil - once you get on your and! No layers dirt and soil difference no layers, no organization, and add it to retain the integrity the. The nutrients needed to promote plant growth, Dr Elaine Ingham, a soil... At all amounts of organic matter containing some form of non-living or petrified sphagnum moss and becomes! An entire ecosystem that is marketed as just plain dirt, or to change the elevation of.! Ranging from dead leaves to alive earthworms, dirt does not compact when wet unlike... Inches of the earth: dirt is soil is the mineral component of the earth rich in nutrients organic.