Fall is a good time to start a new garden because you can get the soil prepared and ready for spring planting. When starting a garden you might want to consider buying garden soil, especially for raised beds. Deciding where to buy garden soil in Chicago can be difficult if you don't know what to look for, where to look and what to avoid. Here are some tips for choosing where and how to buy soil garden in Chicago.
Lake Street Landscape Supply seems to be the choice for many gardeners in our area, especially those working on urban agriculture projects in Chicago. Make sure to communicate with the staff of landscape suppliers and be clear about what you will plant in the soil. Do you want soil for ornamental plants or for a vegetable garden? Last year I visited a community garden who bought "top soil' for their vegetable garden. It was mostly wet clay with lots of rocks and pebbles, not ideal soil for growing vegetables and herbs.
If you're working on a small garden or on a budget, check with your local garden center in Chicago for bagged soil options. Bagged garden soil mixes may be labeled as "not for container gardening" because the ingredients aren't very light. The makeup of soil mixes for container gardening is different from a soil mix to plant in the ground. Container garden soil mixes are created to provide fast drainage.
When I attended the school garden build at Currie High School, GreenCorps Chicago provided the compost the raised beds where filled with. If you're looking for buy soil in Chicago for your community or school garden sign up for GreenCorps program and they'll provide compost that has been extensively tested for harmful chemicals like lead. This is particularly important if you are starting a garden in one of Chicago's brownfields. Homeowners should make sure to have their soil tested for lead.
Stay away from offers for free garden soil at places like Craigslist. This is usually construction waste and even soil that has been gardened in could harbor untold number of pests and harmful chemicals.