Every big-time soil/compost/mulch purveyor I endorse, and have endorsed over the years, makes something that in the industry is referred to as ETS – Enriched Top Soil. They have different names for these products these days, but if you happen upon a soil yard, and ask for an “Enriched Top Soil”, and they give you a blank look – turn around and get out of there. The majority of the quality soil yards in the greater Houston area know what that means, and they will likely will show you what theirs looks like and what they call it.
For all practical purposes, Enriched Top Soil for the GardenLine faithful is the kind of soil you apply to the ground before you lay new sod. Some ETS is good enough for Top Dressing a lawn, although I’d still prefer you do nothing but compost these days. Still, some ETS formulas can be used in top dressing situations, where there’s a need for more soil and sand than heavy on the compost. I usually see that need in situations where there’s a healthy amount of leveling that needs to happen along with the compost top dressing.
In my long-running tip sheet Kill, Till, Fill & Sod – Randy Lemmon, and advice over the years regarding Kill-Till-Fill & Sod (KTFS), when we get to the “Fill” part, I’ve recommended Enriched Top Soil a lot. Whether you get enough to make a 2 inch layer on its own, or you till the ETS into your existing soil (and hopefully the “Till-ed” up soil, as recommended in KTFS) it’s still one of the best inside secrets for establishing newly laid sod that will set up and reward you quicker than just laying new sod on a clay base, or even a sandy base.
Here are the ETS products at the soil yards I endorse. There are many other soil purveyors in town, but my advice is to stick with the ones that believe in high quality over high volume.
The Ground Up www.thegroundup.com has an ETS, but they’re most innovative product for such purposes is called Turf Mix Premium.
Nature’s Way Resources www.natureswayresources.com has two ETS products, one is called Turf Mix and the other is called Lawn Mix. I prefer the Turf Mix for purposes mentioned above.
Landscaper’s Pride www.landscaperspride.com has a new product (at least new to me) that I saw for the first time in January, which looks good and should meet the above-mentioned needs/standards, and it’s called Healthy Soil Compost. It’s a blend of two different types of compost, which can be used as top dressing, but I like its look as an ETS, but one that absolutely must be tilled to the existing soil for laying sod on top of.