Mulch vs Compost: What's The Difference & Which Is The Best?
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Mulch vs Compost: What’s The Difference & Which Is Better?


Are you a homeowner who enjoys having your garden looking healthy and beautiful? It can sometimes be difficult to ensure that your flowers and plants grow properly, but you don’t have to be a professional gardener to have a nice garden. Luckily for those of us who haven’t developed our green thumbs yet, there are a few tricks that can help! One of these helpful hints includes using mulch or compost on your garden. However, there are a few questions that need to be addressed first. Which one should you use and what is the difference between mulch vs. compost?


Model Use For Material Purpose
Mulch Used on the top layer of soil Organic materials Prevents weeds from growing
Compost Used beneath the top layer of soil (closer to the roots) Organic materials Removes toxins from the soil


It is difficult to decide between mulch and compost. However, something that can make the decision even harder is not fully understanding what each option has to offer. This article will go into detail describing exactly what mulch and compost are, and how they can benefit you and your garden. After reading, you can start to plan a trip to your closest garden centre to view all the different types of natural fertilizer that they have available.



Mulch is a type of nonliving, organic material that can be spread across the top of the soil. It is meant to cover anything that was planted beneath the surface. Mulch is used as a general term, as there are numerous materials that fall under the category.

Among others, the materials can include newspaper (with organic dyes), composted wood chips (e.g. cedar), bark of any type, leaf material, and straw. Shredded leaves are the most common form of mulch, as they are free and can be found naturally in the yard. Wood mulch is also popular, as it is also natural and light to carry to different areas.


There are several benefits of choosing to use mulch to fertilize your garden.


First, it is able to retain the moisture in the soil. The plants will find it easier to access water and moisture, as it will not dry up as quickly. As well, more nutrients will be left in the soil, making it rich and easier for plants to grow.



Second, mulch naturally works to fights against weeds. When unwanted seeds are blown in the wind and land on an area that is covered in mulch, the weeds are unable to take root and grow. Overall this will benefit you, as you will not have to spend time and effort digging weeds out of your garden.



Finally, mulch helps regulate temperatures so that plants have a better chance of thriving in the outdoor conditions. In cold temperatures, mulch can protect roots, and reduces the likelihood of plants being uprooted due to the soil contracting. In warmer temperatures, the roots are kept cool and healthy.



Compost consists of organic materials that have already decomposed. It will typically be dark brown coloured, and should not smell bad. Here is a massive list of items that you can compost. Compost is added into the soil, far beneath the top layer. When digging your garden bed, you can add a bit of compost to a hole, then plant the flowers on top. As well, compost can be placed next to plants, and then worked into the soil so that it is more spread out.


By using compost to fertilize a garden, there will be more nutrients near the roots of the plants. They will have an easier time absorbing these nutrients, and therefore will grow stronger. As well, the nutrients will be released over a longer period of time. This means that months (or even years) later, the plants will still be able to thrive in the enriched soil.

Regular household products are able to be used as compost. This mostly includes items from the kitchen, including tea bags, shells, used paper towels, egg shells, and peels from fruit. However, compost is not just limited to kitchen items. You can also compost cotton balls, hair (human or animal) or shavings that are generated from sharpening pencils. Compost can provide you the satisfaction of being able to recycle otherwise useless materials that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.








Overall, composting is immensely beneficial to the soil itself. If there were any harmful chemicals or unnatural preservatives in the soil, they can be naturally removed. Over time, the composting materials will revive the soil and vanquish the toxic poisons that would otherwise prevent plants from growing and thriving.

*Click here to see our extensive list of the benefits of composting for you garden.


So now that we’ve covered the two different options you have in regarding to tending your garden. Whether you use compost or mulch as fertilizer, it is free, lightweight and completely natural. Overall, it is a better alternative than synthetic fertilizers, where you do not even know the ingredients. But which should you choose?

People who plant gardens will typically want the plants to emerge every year after the frost clears. This means that you should choose to start composting, as it is a more long-term fertilizer. Composting will take a significant amount of dedication, but will pay off in the end. Accumulate a compost pile, and utilize it as a natural fertilizer in your garden. As well, the soil in your garden will be steadily improving in richness and plants will have an easier time growing.

One point to remember when using compost is not to overdo it. If you dig a hole for your plants, and fill it with compost, the plant will not thrive. The soil will be too rich, and will have too much phosphorus and potassium for plants to handle.

Do you have any questions about using mulch or compost in your garden? Or perhaps you’ve already had experience with using it? Were your flowers more beautiful than your neighbors? Let us know in the comments below!