Compost Vs Mulch | Key Differences & How To Use in Gardens?

When you make a garden of vegetables for yourself, there are quite a number of things you will have to take care of. Creating the best environment for your plants to grow in is not easy. You will have to consider what is inside the soil, outside it, the availability of air and water, protection from infestations, etc.

Two important things in creating a good environment for the plants are compost and mulch. They may seem like the same thing but they are not. Let us check out what mulch is first and then we can get to understanding compost vs mulch, which one can be beneficial for you.

What is Mulch?

What is Mulch

In order to understand compost vs mulch, we have to first know what mulch and compost are. Apparently, mulch is a top layer you create to protect your plants from various kinds of things. The best mulch can provide your plant’s protection from the following things:

  • Overgrowth of weed because the mulch layer stops weed from germinating and growing.
  • Soil erosion.
  • Pest infestations.
  • Loss of moisture.

These are some of the common things the mulch protects you from.

On the other hand, compost is a completely different thing from mulch and has a completely different purpose for your plants. Compost is just an organic matter that has been decomposed from garden refuse, kitchen scraps, etc for about a year. The purpose of compost is to fill the soil with natural nutrients to help the plant grow naturally, in a better environment. On top of that, it helps to create a safe place by preventing erosion and weed growth.

So, that is your start to the answer to compost vs mulch. Mulch is something you use to protect your plants and compost os something you use to enhance the soil quality for your plants.

How to make mulch?

In order to get to the answer to the question ‘how to make mulch?” you must first know what is mulch made of? Which brings us to the types of mulch. You can find both organic and inorganic mulch. As you can guess, organic mulch is way better than inorganic mulch.

Organic mulch includes wood chips, grass clippings, shreds, straw, cocoa chips, even newspapers.  However, cocoa chips may not be the best as a mulch as it can be poisonous to certain living beings. You can also consider mushroom compost as mulch. In fact, you can use the mushroom compost as mulch for shrubs, perennials, and trees.

There is no written way to make mulch. You just let the grass clippings stay on your lawn around the plants of your gardens. However, a lot of thought should go into how you place the mulch. Apparently, you should not place the mulch too close to the stem of the plants- it could cause infestations.

When you search for ‘organic mulch near me’ you will see that you do not even have to go to a store to find organic mulch. It is all around you. But, if you want composted mulch then search for compost mulch home depot and you will get the nearest outlet that provides you with the compost mulch.

The broader idea about mulch and its availability should also help decide the winner of compost vs mulch for you.

Which is the best mulch for vegetable garden?

There is no best mulch- you just have to find the right one for your garden. The choice of mulch depends on the type of plant you own and the climate you reside in. For example, if it’s hot there then you need a mulch that won’t increase the soil temperature but rather cool it down.

Compost vs FertilizerCompost vs Fertilizer

Should you use compost or fertilizer for lawn? There is no clear answer to it but you can find your answer based on what you need for your garden.

  • Compost enhances the quality of the soil in your garden and protects the soil to some extent. On the other hand, fertilizer has nutrients in that it feeds to the plants for the plant’s nutrition.
  • Compost is usually organic and contains no chemicals. Fertilizers have chemicals in them and it can be quite harmful to the garden if not used properly.
  • All kinds of Compost are mild and slow in nature and you cannot overfeed the plants with it. However, fertilizer can fill up the plants with too many nutrients which is not a good thing.

Is adding fertilizer to compost a good idea? Well, if you plan to use the fertilizer anyway, you can add it with the compost so that the fertilizer does not overdo its role.


Compost Vs Soil

Compost Vs Soil

Soil is the natural top layer of the earth and compost is just an additional decomposed layer you add to the garden. Only the compost may not be a solid ground for the plant and that is why compost is used with the soil.

However, if the soil of your region has a lot of nutrients in it then you can use the soil without compost for your garden.

Compost Vs Manure

Compost Vs Manure


In the battle between animal dung (manure) and compost, there seems to be a draw. Apparently, manure and compost both improve the quality of the soil in which they reside. However, compost does it faster and better than manure.

On the other hand, manure can activate the microbes in the soil to stimulate the decomposing activity of the soil, which is a good thing for the plants. Compost does so too but it is slower than manure in doing so. In the end, it may be the availability that should help you choose.

Manure Vs Fertilizer

Manure Vs Fertilizer

There is one key difference between the two that should help you decide. Apparently, manure, other than providing the plants with nutrients also enhances the condition of the soil that the plants reside in. On the other hand, fertilizer only provides nutrients to the plant. The extra chemicals in it may end up harming the soil too.


Vermicompost Vs Fertilizers


Vermicompost is the compost made form worms. As we already know fertilizer has chemicals in them and vermicompost does not. So, vermicompost is a safer alternative to fertilizer.

Mushroom compost Vs Manure Compost

Mushroom compost Vs Manure Compost

As you can already guess, both of them do an excellent job as composts. However, mushroom compost may have more nutrients in them. But, manure compost will be better at the decomposing process for the soil under the plants.

In conclusion

It is quite hard to choose among so many alternatives when taking care of your vegetable garden. The simple compost vs mulch question is not enough but it opens the doorway to so many other possibilities. At least now you know which one does what best and can decide for yourself. But, the study does not really end.

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