Topsoil Information What is topsoil?
Good topsoil is a mixture of mineral particles‭, ‬water‭, ‬nutrients‭, ‬organic matter‭, ‬air and living organisms‭.‬

Understanding the source and make-up of a topsoil will help you select the right product for your project. If importing a topsoil for landscaping then compliance to BS3882:2015 should be a minimum requirement.

British Standard for topsoil ❯ Topsoil Terminology ❯ Topsoil Facts ❯


British Standard for topsoil‭ (‬BS3882:2015‭)‬

Topsoil is an important aspect of many civil engineering, public and private landscaping projects where it should support healthy plant growth.

There are two grades:

Multipurpose grade

This is a grade suited to most situations where topsoil is required.

Specific Purpose

This grade comprises characteristics appropriate for specialist applications, e.g. low fertility, acidic or alkaline.

The Standard gives up-to-date advice on correct soil sampling, handling, storage, subsoil preparation and depth of topsoil.

The Standard also draws attention for the need for potentially toxic elements analysis and to the possibility that Site Specific Assessment Criteria (SSAC) or Generic Assessment Criteria (GAC) might have been set for the intended recipient site.

Note 4 in table 1 of the standard references the Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) model (EA/DEFRA:2009) Soil Guidelines Values and Charted Institute of Environment Health (CIEH) / Land Quality Management (LQM) Generic assessment criteria for human health risk assessment.

Topsoil suppliers are required to provide a Declaration of Analysis to include:
  • Location of topsoil source
  • Previous and current land use for Natural Soils 
  • Date of Sampling and Analysis
  • BS3882:2015 compliant topsoil must be sampled every 5000 cubic metres (8000t) traded
  • Test results including Contamination Parameters 
  • Written confirmation of compliance with BS3882:2015.
All purchasers and users of topsoil should ask their topsoil supplier for a copy of the following:
  • BS3882:2015 Declaration of Analysis
  • Analysis Certificate
  • Sampling Protocol

Copies of BS3882:2015 are available from:
BSI Customer Services Department
Tel: (0845 086 9001)

Need advice?
Talk to the TOPSOIL team  ❯