In general try to see the topsoil before you buy it, look out for high stone content, thick fibrous roots and contaminants such as glass and brick. Inspection will enable you to discuss any concerns you may have before you actually buy it.
Ask the supplier where it is coming from and whether it all has the same origin (building sites are often used as a source and the quality can be variable). If the supplier has had soil analyses undertaken request a copy. If they claim it is good and state facts and figures request these details in writing.
Ensuring you have high quality topsoil is essential as it will provide early establishment and development of turf, seed, trees, shrubs and plants. It is the foundation of a healthy landscaping scheme. Topsoil – and topsoil suppliers – can vary greatly in quality, so it always pays to look around before placing an order. Local recommendations are often one of the best ways of choosing a supplier.
When buying topsoil consider whether you really need soil of top quality. If you do, do you require a particularly good grade or would a more general grade suffice? Most good suppliers will offer a range of grades. It is important that you are specific about your requirements as the terminology used will vary from supplier to supplier. Describe your situation/requirement to them as they may be able to recommend a material better suited to your situation.
For a detailed list of topsoil and topsoil blends, click here.