Can You Use Compost As Mulch?
Mulch is any protective material that you use to cover the soil’s surface to control weeds, retain moisture, and enhance appearance. And the thicker the mulch, the more difficult it is for weeds to grow. Moreover, using compost as mulch is an effective way of adding nutrients to the soil and keeping it in good condition. At the same time, it also helps improve the soil’s structure, drainage, and nutrient-holding capacity. High-quality compost is a great amendment to enhance the soil by providing nutrients, organic matter, and beneficial microbes.
Furthermore, compost is an ideal mulch, especially for organic gardeners. It is a cost-effective way to cover the topsoil. However, remember to place a decent quality compost since it will serve as the primary medium for your plant’s growth. Hence, the quality of compost mulches does matter a lot. It would surely provide several benefits when you spread it uniformly onto the soil as a cover. There is no doubt that compost is considered the best mulch!
Different Types Of Mulches
- Synthetic: These are man-made mulches such as; plastic and rubber sheeting, landscape fabric, cardboard, and newspaper.
- Natural: These are not degradable materials such as; gravel, crushed seashells, stone chips, pebbles, and slate.
- Organic: It includes living materials like; compost, wood chips, chopped leaves, sawdust, pine needles, and even paper.
Why Is Compost Considered As The Best Mulch?
1.) Saves You Money
Compost blanket treatments are more cost-effective than other systems and treatments that do not use them. Indeed, it reduces energy use associated with transporting water and producing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
2.) Increases Soil Nutrients
It provides soil nutrients in a stable organic form such as; increasing plant rooting depth, enhancing physical, biological, and chemical soil properties, and the decrease of soil erosion. Additionally, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are the critical nutrients for your plant’s growth. And it so happened that compost is abundant in these three primary nutrients.
3.) Helps Make Plants Grow Faster
Scientists have found that adding a compost blanket decreases pest damage, and produces bigger flowers and vegetables. Indeed, organic waste can significantly increase plant growth. And the production of stems and leaves also increases with the continuous addition of organic materials.
4.) Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Compost blankets decrease landfill methane emissions (Methane is a major source of global greenhouse gas). Composting is an aerobic process that decreases or prevents the release of methane during organic matter breakdown.
5.) Essential Component In Water Management
Compost increases the water holding capacity of your soil. It helps replenish groundwater and at the same time enhances water quality by adsorbing contaminants and capturing sediment. Therefore you can conserve water consumption while enhancing water infiltration and storage.
6.) Reduces Use Of Synthetic Fertilizers And Pesticides
The continuous use of compost blankets encourages gardeners not to use synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals. The use of alternative fertilizers like compost may result in positive effects on the soil by increasing the organic matter, improving water retention, and soil texture decreasing erosion rate.
7.) Encourages Earthworms And Other Microbial Organisms
Earthworms and other microbial organisms are vital to plants since they aerate the soil and break down organic matter such as leaves into important nutrients for plants to grow.
8.) A Natural Flood Control
It intercepts and filters falling rain, reducing runoff and associated sediment losses alters soil structure, and prevents soil erosion. Also, increasing plant growth and soil cover.
9.) Protects Plants From Diseases And Pests
Compost feeds the bacteria, fungi, and other beneficial organisms that transform and release nutrients preventing plant diseases and pests. At the same time, it suppresses harmful pests and diseases that could overrun lifeless, poor soil.
10.) Regulates Soil Temperature
The extreme temperature may affect the growing roots of your plants. Compost as mulch covers the soil surface and is a good help in keeping the soil temperature beneficial for your overall plant growth.
Ways To Use Compost As Mulch
- Make a proper neat soil surface and apply compost on top of the soil. The thicker the better! Compost is available in aggregated form. So, it will help worms and other beneficial insects to penetrate in soil.
- The compost blanket should not be dry. Any dry mulch will not allow roots to grow properly. In case of dry compost, add a layer of another mulch over it.
Tips When Adding Compost As Mulch
- Always make sure to use only excellent compost. Worn-out compost may infest your garden soil with disease-causing organisms that can kill your plants.
- Before applying, make sure your compost has been well broken down and then spread it out around the base of plants.
- Add a 2-4 inch layer of compost over the soil extending the layer outward about 12 inches from the plants.
- Each layer will slowly work its way into the soil most likely during the growing season. Therefore, adding a layer monthly is highly recommended.
- Also, consider placing the potted plants with compost in an area where it is not exposed to sun and wind.
- You can use compost as mulch year-round in winter, spring, summer, or fall depending on how diligent you are to take care of it.
Giving Your Compost Another Purpose Like Mulch Makes Your Garden Happy
Compost will give the soil a nutrient boost, adds a layer of insulation, protect plant roots from extreme temperatures, and improve drought tolerance. Providing maximum benefit for your fruits, veggies, and flowers. Mulch is a great gardening time saver. And choosing the best mulch for your garden will reward you as long as you do it correctly. Hence, it cuts down the time it takes to weed, fight pests, and water.
Compost and mulch are two essential ingredients to keep your garden soil in a good condition. And as long as you utilize them correctly you would indeed develop great results. The usefulness of both compost and mulch depends on your goal as a gardener. Yet both can be used in combination. The good thing about composting is you become more resourceful and environmentally friendly.
Have you used compost as mulch before? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!