Quality of Top Soil That is Sold in Bulk

I have a couple questions on top soil that is sold in bulk.
I bought a truck-load of top soil in bulk, and I spreaded it over my lawn. When I saw it on the truck, it looked dark because it was wet. Therefore, I thought it looked acceptable to me. But now when I compare it to store-bought top soil from home center, they are quite different:
- Its color is kind of medium grey. Its color is like concrete powder when it is dry or when it is wet. The soil from a bag of Scott Lawn Soil is much darker and with a brown-tune. Their colors are completely different when I place them side-by-side.
- It contains many stones as large as 3" wide. Cheap store-bought top soil also contains many stones; but their stones tend to be much smaller than those I find in the top soil that I bought in bulk. The Scott Lawn Soil that I bought hardly has any stone in it. The top soil was supposed to have "well screened".
My questions are:
- Is my concrete-powder-colored top soil any good? The salesman told me that this is just as good as the dark-black top soil. But I have a hard time believing this.
- How much organic matters in this type of concrete-powder-colored top soil anyway?
- The good thing is that this top soil seems to be quit easy to spread. I guess this means it doesn't have a lot of clay. On the other hand, its color surely looks like a mix of clay and sand. The clay makes it dark, and the sand makes it easy to spread. Now, I am wondering what is going to happen if I add water to it. Will I get concrete out of it?
- What does "well screened" top soil mean? How do they screen top soil? Do top soil vendors have large machines that have metal wire screen to screen the top soil? Do they have someone casually eye-balling a pile of top soil to sort of "screening" the top soil?
- What is the best way to buy top soil in bulk without running the risk of getting "something else"? I had already gone to visually check the top soil before I ordered the top soil, and the salesman had already written down "DARK!" on the invoice; but I still get this "stuff". Do I have to go to the nursey to actually see them loading top soil onto the truck?
Thanks.
Jay Chan
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Jay,
Unfortunately there are no laws or industry guidelines governing what can and cannot be sold as 'topsoil'. The stuff you buy in 3 foot cubic bags is of a much higher organic content (usually) than the bulk stuff.
You just have to visit the yard and closely examine their particular version of 'topsoil'.
Dave

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Seem like this is a case of "I got what I paid for". OK, next time, I will buy in bags instead of in bulk, and I do this for the following reasons:
- At least I know what I am getting.
- The price difference is small when I factor into my sweat and effort in using this stuff (that costed me one weekend to apply those fill-dirt on my lawn).
I always prefer to use composts instead of top soil anyway. I was forced to use top soil because I could not find anyone that can sell composts in bulk locally. If I will have to get top soil in bags, I may as well get composts instead.
Thanks.
Jay Chan
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Did sound like filldirt, but unless from some contaminated source, it can be rendered as good as any quality topsoil by mixing into it a shitload of manure. A shitload of rabbit raisens might not even need to be composted first.
If the field sample is loamy topsoil & the delivered stuff is powdery dirt, the real problem is selling for a quality price something that has little or no organic component. It's a rip-off by thieves even though it can easily be fixed with compost & labor. If it's worth the time & effort for a bit of justice, I'd go get a sample of the vendor's "quality top soil" as displayed for sale, & take that along with a bucket of the powdery dirt actually delivered & get an expert opinon on both from a horticultural extension. If what was purchased vs what was delivered are notably different, then armed with expert opinion, demand of the vendor a FREE load of good compost sufficient to turn that ordinary cheap filldirt into the top soil actually paid for. If they refuse, then it's off to small claims court for a FULL refund with which to purchase the required compost from someone else.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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After I have spent the last weekend in spreading the so-called top soil on my lawn, I am too tired to think of spending another weekend spreading manure. I think I will leave the grass clipping on the lawn when I mow to add organic matters into the soil. Next year in spring when I need to mow the lawn very short anyway (cool season grass), I will consider spreading compost over my lawn.

This will not work for me. The nursey has all the bases covered: When I went to order top soil from the nursey, they had both black-rich top soil and the "so called" top soil sitting next to each other. The salesman verbally assures me that they will delivery the good kind to me, and he wrote down "DARK!" in the invoice. Of course, "dark" doesn't mean anything, and verbal assurance means even less. Because they also had the "so called" top soil also in display, I cannot say that they are bait-and-switch. The problem is that I cannot tell the difference between the black rich top soil and the "so called" top soil if they are not placed side-by-side, and that was what had fooled me.
Next time I will buy in bags even if they cost more.
Jay Chan
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snipped-for-privacy@netscapeSPAM-ME-NOT.net (paghat) wrote in

<snip>
hehe, make sure you word your demand carefully, or it's a FREE load of rabbit raisens for you!
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I have a feeling that you are right. Sigh...
Jay Chan
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Yes, I have a pile of stones to prove it. I threw them under my deck as inorganic mulch.

Actually, the "so call" top soil seems to have the proper mix of sand and clay. This means it can hold together and can break up. This is the reason I can spread it over my lawn relatively easily. Unfortunately, I doubt that it contains much organic matters. Seem like it contains sand/clay/stones and that's! Oh well...
I will not buy anything from that nursey any more!
Jay Chan
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<snip>

Just make sure to give them a call and let them know. Don't make it a complain or whine... just tell them you have a comment for management and let them know you won't be back because of the poor soil that was delivered.
Businesses need as much feedback as possible if you want them to improve!
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You are right. I surely hope them can improve -- they are the closest nursey near my house. Thanks.
Jay Chan
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