Topsoil, Loam, Compost- What you need to know.

Close-up of gardening tool in a sustainable greenhouse in countryside

When it comes to dirt there is actually a lot to know. Most importantly what are the different types and what do you need for one project verses another. To help us understand, Todd Burnett gives us the low down on our dirty little friend…SOIL.

Question: There are many different types of soil sold. What is the difference between topsoil, loam, compost and growers mix?

Todd: Topsoil and Loam are essentially the same thing, they are the top layer of soil that differs from the soil below because it has years of decomposed organic matter (from falling leaves, etc).  This organic matter enables the base mineral soil to hold a lot more water and nutrients for the plants.  The top soil we sell is enriched with a small amount of compost already.

The compost we sell is basically decomposed leaves. This is what you would use if your soil was already pretty good, but you wanted to enrich it for a veggie garden or flower bed.  It usually gets tilled or manually turned into the soil to incorporate it and mix it into the soil profile, so it’s evenly distributed throughout the root zone (the top 18 inches+/-).

Growers mix is what you would use in a container that you would plant flowers or veggies in.  It is a soil-less mix that allows for good drainage (so the roots get enough oxygen) but holds the right amount of water and nutrients.  

Question: What is best for a veggie garden?

Todd: Unless the soil is really poor, usually compost is all that is needed.  The bagged Coast of Maine composts generally contain more nutrients than the bulk (leaf) compost.  So, if you have a limited area to do it may be wise to spend the extra money and buy the bagged products.

Question: What is best for your lawn?

Todd: Usually topsoil is all that is needed for a lawn unless the existing soil is extremely sandy.

Question: What is best for flower beds?

Todd: Typically, compost is best for flower beds as it helps enrich the nutrients and water holding capacity of the existing soil.

Question: What is best for planters and pots?

Todd: For planters and pots I always recommend potting soil.  Black Gold or our Greenworld commercial mix both work great.  

Have more questions or want to learn more? Come on out and see us for more great tips to get your garden growing.

Burnett’s Country Gardens offers bulk delivery of loam, compost and mulch. Contact us to place your order.

Burnett’s Country Gardens, Route 85, Salem, CT

(860) 949-8722



Growing an Indoor Herb Garden

herbsIf you love cooking with herbs and want to bring a taste of spring into your home before the weather outside is cooperating, starting an indoor herb garden is the way to go!  Unlike when you plant your herbs outside, when in your house herbs prefer to live in their own container rather than being potted up together. This practice also allows you to tend to each herbs individual needs for light and water.

Containers with good drainage are key to keeping herbs healthy. Select a potting mix rather than a potting soil when planting herbs in the house because mixes promote better drainage. A good, seaweed based fertilizer can boost the health and heartiness of your indoor herb garden.  We carry Neptune’s Harvest at Burnett’s and many of our customers have told us that even though it can be a little stinky, it has helped their indoor herbs (and houseplants) thrive! Herbs like sunlight, so find a nice sunny spot for your herbs. Don’t crowd them, they need some breathing room.  Give them a slow watering 2-3 times per week. Enjoy!

Mum Festival & Craft Show

Join us as we celebrate the flowers of the season – MUMS! Two weekends of family fun, rain or shine. This year we welcome local artisans to sell their handmade crafts during the Mum Festival, booths will be set up inside the greenhouse and outside near the hayride entrance. Check out the schedule of workshops during the festival so you can get a little crafty too!


Spring Cleanup

File_001(1)When it comes to spring garden cleanup, I am definitely more of a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ kind of gardener. I do admire Weekend Warriors that get out there and get everything cleaned up and ready for the season in just two days off, whilst they limp to work Monday morning to recoup :). But it’s just not my style. Not anymore anyway. At this stage in the game, I’m learning to enjoy the process of spring garden cleanup instead of treating it as a chore to just get through. Though plants wait for no one. When it’s time for them to break ground, it doesn’t matter if you still need to rake and remove winter debris, spring happens fast and furious. Waiting for a day-long block of ‘free’ time to get started will only allow me to procrastinate, instead I do tasks on a priority basis and steal 15 minutes here and there.

How do you decide what garden task takes priority for your time? Start with the hot spots. Hot spots are any planted area near your house foundation, driveway, or walkways. File_008The ground is always warmer in those areas so the plants are going to wake very quickly.

Next up for cleanup would be any areas that bulbs are planted. Not too much uglier than knocking beautiful tulips and daffodils to the ground because you want to rake the ground around them. Leaf clean up of the showy winter perennials needs attention before they start to produce new healthy foliage. Plants like heuchera and epimediums are wonderful to see in the winter, but by this time their leaves are just done, and you don’t want new foliage mixed with the raggedy old. Cut them back right to the new growth at the crown and they’ll be back and beautiful before you know it.File_007

Lavender needs early spring attention before they wake up too much. I am not a fan of hard pruning my lavender plants unless they need it. Lavender with plump looking healthy foliage is left to grow big and beefy, while any branches with shriveled looking branches gets trimmed. This is a good time to snip any of last years flower stalks before new buds get mingled with the old sticks.

Gardening is just short of something miraculous, and there is always something to discover. Don’t wait to get out there and get your hands dirty!

Heather Thibeault is a life-long gardener, plant collector, and Burnett's employee.

Heather Thibeault is a life-long gardener, plant collector, and Burnett’s employee.

Landscape Project Weeks

Dreaming of a picture perfect landscape but don’t know where to start? That’s where we come in! Let us help you get started no matter how small or big your project is.


Call to make an appointment for a complimentary design consultation. This offer is only good for 2 weekends, March 25 & 26, April 1 & 2. These spaces are limited, so call to schedule your appointment right away!

Here are some things you can do to make the most of your 1/2 hour appointment:

– Take pictures from different angles and distances of the area you want to landscape or garden in.

– Take measurements!

– Take pictures of your house to capture the style and color of your home.

– Know the exposure (north, south, east, or west exposure).

– Know the lighting. How many hours of shade/sun?

– Think about your goals. Do you want to see flowers? Do you want low maintenance plants? Do you need deer resistant plants?

Call 860-949-8722 to take advantage of this special design service!