A common viewpoint across the Earth science community is that global soil moisture estimates from satellite L-band (1.4 GHz) measurements represent moisture only in the shallow soil layers (0-5 cm) and are of limited value for studying global terrestrial ecosystems because plants use water from deeper rootzones. Here, we argue that such a viewpoint is flawed for two reasons. First, microwave soil emission theory and statistical considerations of vertically correlated soil moisture information together indicate that L-band measurements are typically representative of soil moisture within at least the top 15-25 cm, or 3-5 times deeper than commonly thought. Second, in reviewing isotopic tracer field studies of plant water uptake, we find a global prevalence of vegetation that primarily draws moisture from these upper soil layers. This is especially true for grasslands and croplands covering more than a third of global vegetated surfaces. While shrub and tree species tend to draw deeper soil moisture, these plants often still preferentially or seasonally draw water from the upper soil layers. Therefore, L-band satellite soil moisture estimates are more relevant to global vegetation water uptake than commonly appreciated, and we encourage their application across terrestrial hydrosphere and biosphere studies.