22nd Mar 2023 -

Soil is a complex blend of organic matter, minerals, moisture, and air, and is crucial for plant growth across the world. The mixture and balance of soil can give it radically different textures, looks, and uses within a garden or landscaping project. 

When discussing the main types of soil within the UK, we can talk about two specific things, the different classifications of existing soil, and the alternative types of soil sold for use within landscaping projects.

The 6 Main Types of Soil

soil in hands

The soil around you could correspond to a range of different types, due to its composition. These basic types can bring significantly different uses, benefits, and drawbacks to an outdoor space.

Clay Soil

Clay soil is dense with very small particles. It has a lot of nutrients and boasts great water-holding capacity, but it is famously difficult to work with. This soil can be damp in winter and dry in summer, along with being difficult for plant roots to penetrate. Gardeners may wish to improve their clay soil through amendments, or through aeration tools.

Sandy Soil

Due to their high level of sand, these soils offer excellent drainage but bring with them many drawbacks. They are low in nutrients and may need to be carefully altered by adding organic matter or fertilisers in order to be used for plant growth. The free-draining nature of sand also means you’ll need to water more often to keep plants healthy. Sandy soil warms up quickly in spring compared to clay.

Silt Soil

While the fine particles of this soil make it comparable to sandy soil, it will hold more nutrients and water, which makes it more effective for growing a range of plants.

Chalky Soil

A large proportion of chalk within your soil can cause its pH to rise to levels that make it difficult for certain plants to grow. The levels of nutrients and water storage in chalk soils can vary.

Loamy Soil

Loam soils can be seen as the most desirable choice for gardeners, containing a mixture of sand, silt and clay. This perfect balance of elements makes it rich in nutrients, easy to work with, and great for planting. Adding organic matter to loam soil can still provide benefits, and soil must always be monitored and cared for. Clay loam soil is loamy soil with a higher proportion of clay, and is sometimes found in outdoor spaces.

Peat Soil

Peat is high in organic matter, offering a fantastic level of nutrients. This type of soil is often imported and used for planting specifically.

Shovel digging into soil with green plants in the backgroud

What Are the Different Types of Soil Sold in the UK?

While the 6 common soil types listed above occur across outdoor spaces, when looking to buy soil within the UK, you’ll be looking at a different range of products, all intended to encourage healthy plant growth either when used alone within a plant pot or bed, or installed as an additive to existing soil.

  • Topsoil: Most soils sold within the UK will be some kind of topsoil, designed to be added to existing soil or used directly for planting. Topsoil will be moist and rich in nutrients, offering everything that plants need to thrive. It can be sold either screened or unscreened, with screened soil being clear of stones over a certain size. The size of the particles it is screened for will be listed in the product description.
  • Compost: Another popular gardening product, compost is designed as a soil amendment, meaning that it is added to soil to improve its structure and performance. Compost is made from a range of decomposing elements, and is sometimes called “potting soil”.
  • Vegetable Compost: A type of compost specifically intended for the growth of vegetables. It will involve products like manure and food waste and will be high in organic matter.
  • Topdressing: This will be a mixture of sand and topsoil intended for use with lawns, either when planting a new lawn or dealing with unhealthy patches within an existing one.

  1. Price from: £109.76 £131.71
  2. Price from: £109.76 £131.71
  3. Lawnmix Topsoil (900/001/97487)


    • Bulk/Small Bags Available
    • Peat free
    Price from: £104.59 £125.51

View All Soil & Compost

Our Range of Soil And Gardening Products

Building Materials Nationwide offers a fantastic range of landscaping and gardening products for sale across the UK, working with professionals and DIYers alike. Within our soil and compost category, you’ll find our selection of topsoils, including topdressing, alongside compost, vegetable compost, and a manure compost blend. We have bulk bags available with UK delivery.

We also offer trade accounts for professionals, getting you access to the services of a dedicated account manager, who’ll be able to source the exact products you need for a landscaping project, delivered to you fast and at a competitive trade price. If you’re looking for a reliable bulk supplier of soil and other products, sign up for a trade account today.


Can you alter the type of soil?

The fundamental composition of your soil is extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, to change. However, through soil amendments, you’ll be able to make significant changes, including greatly improving your soil as a space for growing plants. So if your garden has clay soil it will essentially remain that way, but careful additions could help to make it more porous for instance.

What are some common soil amendments?

What is soil pH, and how can I test it?

What are some issues to look out for in soil?