Mulch vs. Compost: Which is Right for You?


Compost commonly serves as a fertilizer because of its nutrients and less as mulch.

Mulch and compost are often used together and, sometimes, are used interchangeably. However, while compost can be used as mulch, mulching is not the same as composting. Composting is decomposing organic matter and recycling it into fertilizer for soil. Mulching is placing a protective cover of the soil to preserve moisture, decrease erosion, and stifle weed growth.

What is Compost?

Compost can be used as organic mulch, but it’s more commonly mixed with the soil to enrich it, thus using it as a fertilizer. When used as a mulch, compost is quick to break down. Other organic mulch options—such as woodchips—break down a bit slower, making woodchips a more effective mulch if you’re looking to keep your plants mulched an entire season.

Waiting for materials to become usable compost can be a pain: Not only does it take a long time to decompose, but it can smell, too. So while you may want to start your own compost pile from your own organic waste, we’re here to supply you with the rest.

Why Do You Need Compost and Mulch?

If you’re looking to keep your plants healthy and fertilized—especially new plants—you want to mix compost in with the soil while you’re planting. Once you’ve planted, putting a layer of mulch on top will protect them well into the winter season and beyond, depending what kind of mulch you use.

If you purchase organic mulch, such as bark mulch, you can turn this material into compost after you’ve used it. After about a year, you’ll probably want to re-mulch your landscape. That’s when you can take the old woodchips and put them in your compost pile with your other waste such as banana peels, leaves, and paper napkins. Make sure to turn that compost pile regularly if you want to speed up decomposition.

Still wondering when to use mulch and when to use compost, or what the right mix is for your landscaping project?

Call us today! We’ll get you on the right track to a healthy lawn and garden.