Potting Soil Vs. Garden Soil – A Complete Comparison

Are you seeking a comparison between potting soil vs. garden soil?  Do you want to know the pros and cons of these kinds of soil?.

As you may know, the soil you choose for your trees can significantly affect their health and growth rate. While potting soil is excellent for growing plants in containers, garden soil is a more affordable choice if you want to grow plants in a larger area.

The following section will show you the difference between potting soil and garden soil.

A Complete Comparison Between Potting Soil Vs. Garden Soil

What Is Potting Soil?

Potting soil is a growing medium where you can grow your plants and vegetables. Its notable feature is that it is used for growing plants in durable containers indoors.

Also, its formula is ideal for plants and their environment. Standard components found in this kind of soil include vermiculite, peat moss, and mushroom compost in optimal proportions.

Potting Soil Vs. Garden Soil - A Complete Comparison

This soil commercially comes in many hybrid combinations for the plant’s growth. 

One example of plants requiring potting soils is African violets.  This flower can benefit from a perfect environment for its growth in this soil mixed with peat moss.


Potting soil is an excellent idea for growing container plants. It includes various ingredients such as vermiculite, peat, coconut coir, bark, and perlite, helping to hold onto nutrients, and water, promoting good aeration and drainage. 

Plus, they are developed for various kinds of conditions and plants. For example, you can find mixes for acid-loving plants, water-holding mixes, and African violet mixes.

Another benefit of potting is its convenience. It is much easier to use than garden soils. 

When using gardening soil for raised beds or outdoor containers, you will need to add nutrients, increase organic matter, change the pH, or improve the drainage. To do that, you will have to buy various amendments to mix up. 

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Meanwhile, you can use potting mixes straight out of the bag without adding extra nutrients, saving much time and effort. All you need to do is simply fill up your containers and add them to the plants. 

Potting Soil Vs. Garden Soil - A Complete Comparison

Several potting soils include compost, bone meal, fertilizer, providing nutrients to improve the soil quality.

Another nice perk of this soil type is that it lowers the chance of your trees getting diseases while delivering an adequate amount of essential nutrients for your plant’s growth. 

It is notably true if the package is labeled “sterile mix” – a blend that is good for starting seeds as seedlings are vulnerable to diseases.


The only downside of this type of soil is its price. It is pretty expensive, while the garden soil is much more affordable. 

Also, some plants are probably harmed by potting mixes intended for other types of plants. Some mixes are not ideal for organic gardening due to their synthetic ingredients.

Shirley explains the difference between potting soil and planting mix and how to use them!

What Is Garden Soil?

Unlike conventional topsoil, garden soil is a bagged item sold in garden stores containing premixed soil in a specific ratio. Ideally, it is added to the soil for gardens or flower beds to provide the essential nutrients to the topsoil.

Garden soils are available in different kinds. Choosing the most suitable type for your plants pays to consider what you tend to use it for.

Potting Soil Vs. Garden Soil - A Complete Comparison

Again, it is better not to confuse garden soils and topsoil. They are different. While the topsoil comes from the earth’s first two feet, the garden soils are harvested in ratio mixes.

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The manufacturers often screen and refine the topsoil to take away stones and large particles before selling it in bulk. Depending on the place you get the topsoil, it might include clay, slits, and sand, which are not ideal for planting. 

That’s why most gardeners create a topsoil mix with materials and nutrients for their gardening purposes. This combination is called garden soil.


As mentioned above, potting soils are developed with average plant pH needs and offer drainage and various essential nutrients. 

Meanwhile, garden soil appears to be a budget-friendly option when you can get it in your garden or buy it at vegetable garden soil stores at a budget-friendly price.

We also like garden soils because they come with a large amount of organic matter in the compost, providing natural essential nutrients for your plants.

Potting Soil Vs. Garden Soil - A Complete Comparison

Another plus point of garden soils is that they are renewable. By simply keeping kitchen wastes and then incorporating them into your soil, you can improve the soil’s nutrient density, texture, and composition.

Lastly, garden soils can pack well around your plants’ roots, letting them develop a dense root base.


As garden soils don’t have pumice, vermiculite, or perlite, they lack drainage abilities. Thus, the roots grown in garden soils will be more likely to struggle to breathe than those in potting mixes.

When To Use Potting Soil?

Like garden soil, potting soil supports the growth of plants and vegetation, but more appropriately for plants. 

As you might know, conventional garden soils can get compact within the containers’ walls, hindering root growth. 

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Plus, diseases and insects can find their way indoors if you utilize garden soils instead of potting soils. That’s why potting soils are the best option for containers indoors.

When To Use Garden Soil?

Garden soil is suitable for outdoor plants. Most garden soils are either loam, clay, or sand, but their composition is probably changed by mixing natural amendments such as compost.

Potting Soil Vs. Garden Soil - A Complete Comparison

You can utilize them in the containers as long as you add some peat moss and perlite to boost porosity. 

It is not a good idea to use soil for gardening indoor containers since they might have insect eggs that can hatch. As a result, your plants can be damaged by these unexpected visitors.

The unaltered garden soils’ pH is best for native plants to adapt to that kind of pH and soil.  Also, you can use garden soil for flowers or veggies outdoors. 

It is also a good idea to use garden soils for growing plants in vast areas, saving much cost for you compared to potting soil.

Final Thoughts

So you have gone through our potting soil vs. garden soil comparison.  In a nutshell, potting soil is the obvious choice for growing plants in containers. However, it is expensive if you grow in vast areas. 

Meanwhile, garden soil can be found in your garden or buy in stores at a more affordable price. But, unfortunately, garden soil in pots placed indoors can introduce diseases and insects to the house.

We hope our article is helpful for you. If you have any further information, please leave a comment below.

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Jill Sandy

I am a sustainable focus gardener. I love decorating my home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques I develop myself.

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