Shelling out $4 or so for a bag of soil might seem lunacy, but in this age of bottled water and boutique coffees, the green industry is counting on dirt becoming the next product fad. Designer dirt, that is.

The hunch seems to be paying off: The largest player in this field, the Scotts Company of Marysville, Ohio, reports a vigorous consumer response to its national brands of potting mixes, garden soil mixes and mixes to repair lawns.