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So with that looooong winter behind us, and spring peeking its little tulip and daffodil heads up all over the place, most folks are itching to get planting.  It’s important to use the right soil for the right plantings, so here’s a quick breakdown on topsoil vs. compost vs. potting mix.

TopsoilGarden Magic Topsoil 1

It’s basically what the ground is made of, but just a little bit better!  (Many Rochester lawns have clay or sandy soil, whereas topsoil has more organic materials that are less compacted and more nutritious for growing.)

Best for:

  • Filling in holes and low spots in lawns
  • Growing grass seed
  • Mixing with compost for in-ground ornamental and veggie gardens (it’s too heavy for containers)

Try: Garden Magic Topsoil


CompostPort Bay Gold

A soil amendment to use when your garden needs a nutritious pick-me-up.  It’s usually very rich in nutrients, so don’t plant directly into compost.  A good ratio is usually 2 parts topsoil to 1 part compost.


  • Homemade: made from organic materials (food scraps and yard/garden waste) decomposing in a pile or bin
  • Brewer’s compost: made from the by-products of beer-making
  • Composted manure

Best for:

  • Vegetable gardens (add some each year — producing lots of veggies each year takes a lot out of the soil)
  • Tree & shrub plantings
  • Ornamental plantings

Try: Port Bay Gold Compost


Potting MixPotting Mix

Made from peat, perlite, limestone, and usually a fertilizer.  Potting mix is quite lightweight compared to topsoil or compost, and needs no additional amendments when planting.

Best for:

  • Outdoor containers (both annuals & vegetables)
  • Indoor plants
  • Seed-starting

Try: Van Putte Premium Potting Mix

(We use this exact potting mix in our greenhouses for all our veggie and annual plantings, and the incorporated fertilizer lasts for 4 months!)

Resource Center

Custom Potting

Bring in your favorite container or purchase one from our store, and we can assist you with creating your own unique seasonal container.

Custom Potting
Disease & Pest ID

Our experienced Green Thumb staff have got you covered to provide disease and pest identification and solutions

Disease & Pest ID
Soil pH Testing

We provide FREE soil testing at our garden center. Testing your soil for the proper pH levels will help you grow healthier lawns and gardens all year round.

Soil pH Testing
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Delivery & Planting
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