Potting Soil vs Garden Soil: What is the Difference?

Potting Soil vs Garden Soil and what is the difference between Potting soil and Garden soil is a very popularly asked question. Choosing the right soil matters as much as choosing the right seasonal plant to grow in that soil. But the tricky potting soil and garden soil are used alternatively despite their purpose. Can potting soil and garden soil be used alternatively? Won’t the soil affect the plants if used?

To learn the differences and most about the garden and potting soil, read the article to understand the crucial contrasts between these very different soils.  

What is Potting soil?

Potting soil is misleading with its name added as soil. But potting soil does not contain soil at all. Potting soil contains potting mix such as Compost, moss, perlite, and vermicompost. Potting mix basically has the decomposing and decomposed organic matter. Potting mix can be done according to the plants in the pots. The main use of potting soil is for plants and vegetables in pots and containers.  

Potting soil= Potting mix+Soil

The ingredients in the potting mix contain little or no soil, perlite, peat moss, and bark. Compost from recycled plants and food waste, vermiculite, coir, pumice, mineral and organic matter, and plant and animal waste. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Potting soil

Advantages and Disadvantages of Potting soil.


  • Potting soil has high durability.
  • Filled with nutrients, potting soil mostly won’t run out of it.
  • Better moisture retention, as the preferred mix is made for each plant.
  • Potting soil is best for indoor and outdoor potted plants.
  • The best organic potting soil can be formed at home at no cost.


  • Potting soil is expensive when commercial soil is bought.


Approximately 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are stored in the soil.

What is Garden Soil?

Garden soil is a mix of topsoil and organic matter. We all know topsoil is the top layer of soil. Neither topsoil nor garden soil is a type of soil like sand, clay, or silt. Topsoil can be of sand or clay or silt or loam depending on the mix it is made from. As such garden soil can be sandy loam, clay loam, or silt loam. Know the uses of garden soil, here.

Garden soil= Topsoil Organic matters  

Organic Garden soil is rich in organic matter and micronutrients. The pH level of organic garden soil is 6.0.

 Garden soil is a mixture of air, water, living and dead organic matter, and mineral particles.

When purchasing bulk garden soil, ask about the soil used in it and organic matter. So you can be sure about the blend in your garden’s existing soil.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Garden Soil

Advantages and Disadvantages of Garden Soil.


  • Garden soil improves the texture of natural soil
  • Garden soil is best for outdoor and ground applicants.
  • Best used as an add-on to the topsoil which lacks texture or nutrients.


  • Only contains basic nutrients.

Potting Soil vs Garden Soil: What are the Uses? 

  • The main use of potting soil is for plants and vegetables that grow in pots and containers.
  • Potting soil can be used as topsoil for seeding as of its rich clay texture and nutrients for seed growth.
  • The major use of garden soil is to fill the soil bed which lacks nutrients in the soil.
  • The other use of garden soil is to enrich plant growth with the required mix of 25: 75 for garden soil to compost.
  • Both the potting soil and garden soil is made and is not naturally formed and are used for the enrichment of the soil types.

According to USDA, Soil scientists use the capital letters O, A, B, C, and E to identify the master horizons and lowercase letters for distinctions of these horizons. Most soils have three major horizons — the surface horizon (A), the subsoil (B), and the substratum (C). Some soils have an organic horizon (O) on the surface, but this horizon can also be buried. The master horizon, E, is used for subsurface horizons that have a significant loss of minerals (eluviation). 

Potting Soil vs Garden Soil: What are they made of?

The Potting soil is made of soil and potting mixes such as pumice, coir, mineral and organic matter, peat moss, compost, manure, tree waste, and limestone.

The Garden soil is made of topsoil containing air, water, mineral particles and organic matter, and living microorganisms.

Difference Between Potting Soil And Garden Soil

Difference Between Potting Soil And Garden Soil.

The difference between potting soil and garden soil is based upon their usage or the purpose of the garden and pot as said in their name. The other differences are,

  • Material contents and texture of the soil, garden soil has some rock and other minerals and waste where living organisms are present. Whereas in Potting soil the mixture is fine and contains both dead and living organisms.
  • Aeration and water retention in soil, the aeration in garden soil is better and the water retention in potting soil is better.
  • The garden soil is heavy and dense making it hold moist for longer and less watering but potting soil is light and fluffy and requires water twice a day in summer.
  • The cost of potting soil is almost the same as garden soil because of the higher quantity purchase of garden soil it has various discounts making it cheaper.
  • Organisms living in garden soil are higher in garden soil than in potting soil. High-quality potting soil is sterile making it free from living organisms and safe to use indoors.


Now that you know the difference between garden soil and potting soil, it will be easier to understand what soil your plant needs and in which condition. These key differences make a lot of difference in growing a healthy plant in a healthy environment.


Can you use potting soil in the garden?

Potting soil can be used as an amendment in the garden soil. Potting soil can not be used as a replacement for garden soil, just the potting mix for the amendment.

Can you use garden soil in pots?

Nope, Unless you want to suffocate your plant in pots. The garden soil can be used with the potting mix according to the need of the plant in the pot.

Which is better garden soil or potting soil?

Both potting and garden soil have their own merits and demerits. One is better than the other in some features. So it is recommended to choose them wisely for plants.