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Gardening is something that many people are passionate about. You can have a lot of fun tending to your garden area and trying to get things to grow the best that they can.

When you get really into gardening, you might start trying to change the soil to truly get optimal results. Certain plants will grow better in different soil, and some people also choose to use compost.

It’s definitely beneficial to have compost available to use, and it’ll be a good idea to have a compost bin on your property. When it comes to soil vs. compost, is there an easy way to tell the differences?

Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about soil and compost. You’ll gain a better understanding of how you can use soil and compost to get great results in your garden area.

Compost and Soil Are Similar Yet Different

The first thing to understand is that compost and soil are actually quite similar in many ways. In fact, many people have trouble differentiating the two and will just refer to compost as soil.

This isn’t technically accurate, though, and it confuses people who think that compost is something that you use as a soil replacement. Having a better understanding of what compost is should help you to get the idea of how you’re supposed to use it effectively.

Compost

Compost is something that you make using organic materials. Generally, people will make compost piles or compost bins where they will gather organic garbage materials.

You can put many different types of trash in compost bins because they will be able to biodegrade over time. The process is sped up by turning the compost pile over every so often.

If you have things such as banana peels and other types of food products, then those will be perfect things to throw in the compost bin. You can also put your grass clippings in the compost bin as well as many other types of lawn debris.

Twigs and dry leaves will help you to make more compost. Some people even put pond sludge in their compost bins because it can help to make good compost over time.

Eventually, these items will deteriorate and turn into compost. Everything breaks down and becomes a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be very beneficial to you.

How to Use Compost

Now that you understand more about what compost is, it’ll be easier to determine how you’re supposed to use it. You can actually find a number of different uses for compost in your garden.

Some people choose to mix the compost with the soil in the garden area. This can help to add much-needed nutrients to the soil that can help your plants to thrive.

The soil in your yard might become depleted of nutrients over time. Adding compost to the soil will ensure that it has everything that you need to help your plants grow strong.

If you plan to use compost in this fashion, then it’s an excellent idea to amend the soil with the compost in the spring before you plant things. This will help you to get the best results for the season.

Another option is to simply use the compost that you have created as mulch. All you need to do is place the compost on the top layer of the garden beds.

Ideally, you should ensure that the compost mulch is two or three inches thick. Spread it out to ensure that you have good coverage and you’ll have very good mulch that will help to provide nutrients to the nearby plants.

Soil

Soil is something that you probably have a good understanding of already. This is the top layer of the earth, and it’s what you plant things in.

You’ll find that soil is made up of things such as sand, silt, and clay. The soil also contains other bits of organic matter from the earth.

There are so many different types of soil out there, and the soil that you have in your yard might be different from the kind that people have a few towns over. When you grow things in your soil, it’ll wind up losing some of the nutrients that it contains over time.

This is why people need to amend the soil with things such as compost after several seasons of growing plants. It helps to replenish the soil so that you can keep getting good results when growing things.

It’s also worth mentioning that some areas have soil that just won’t be good for growing plants. For example, you could live in an area that has heavy clay soil and it might be hard to get much to grow at all in soil such as that.

Sometimes people have to amend the soil just to make it possible to work the land. You can alter the composition of the soil by adding organic matter to it and turning the soil over.

Compost Can Become Part of the Soil

After reading the information above, it’ll be easier to see that compost and soil are two different things. However, it’s possible for compost to become a part of the soil if you use it in the right way.

As mentioned earlier, you can amend the soil using compost to ensure that it has the nutrients that it needs. This allows you to replenish the nutrients in the soil so that the plants in the garden will be able to grow strong.

The compost isn’t going to remain a separate entity when you add it to the soil. It just becomes part of the soil, and that might be why some people use the terms compost and soil interchangeably.

If you look at it from this perspective, then you can see why some people would get confused. When you’re using compost in a specific way, it’s easy to turn it into soil by adding it to the soil that you already have.

It’s still good to understand what compost and soil can do, though. Understanding the uses of compost and how it can help your soil will make it easier for you to decide if keeping a compost bin is worthwhile.

The Downsides of Keeping a Compost Bin

Of course, there are some downsides to keeping a compost bin on your property that you’re going to want to consider before moving forward. For the most part, having a compost bin is going to be a fantastic way to help your garden area thrive.

However, it’s also true that compost bins can be a bit pungent, so to speak. This means that you might want to put the compost bin somewhere that is far off in your yard so that you won’t have to smell it all the time.

Those who don’t have very large yards might not have much of a choice but to smell the compost bin, though. If your patio area is situated too close to the compost bin, then you might not be able to sit outside and enjoy the breeze without having to put up with the smell.

That being said, it isn’t as if the compost bin smell is absolutely appalling. It just smells like organic garbage that is decomposing, and you can try to mitigate the smell in certain ways.

Many people keep their compost bins closed off and covered to aid with the decay process, and this can help to keep the smell from carrying too far. It’s also good to have a secure compost bin to keep animals out since some animals might try to eat certain food particles that are in the compost bin, and they could make a mess of things if they’re able to gain access to the bin.

Is Building a Compost Bin Easy?

Building a compost bin isn’t something that takes a lot of effort. You really just need to find an area of your yard that has enough space for you to do.

There are many different ways that you can go about building a compost bin or compost pile. You’ll need to start by clearing an area and then you’ll need to find some type of container to use as your compost bin.

You can find commercial compost bins that you can purchase online. There are even some unique designs to consider, such as compost tumblers that can make breaking organic items down fairly simple.

If you’re worried about composting being too difficult or annoying, then you should put your mind at ease. It’s not complicated and it’s a good thing to do for the environment.

Getting rid of organic garbage in this fashion helps to ensure that you aren’t adding more to landfills. Making an effort to compost the items that you can will make a difference in the grand scheme of things, and you’ll be able to benefit by having compost that you can use in your gardens.

Final Thoughts

Having a good compost bin is going to be very good for your property. Compost and soil are different from each other, but they’re both important when you’re trying to grow plants.

Now that you know the differences between soil and compost, it’ll be easier to keep them distinct in your head. Use both soil and compost to ensure that your plants grow healthy and strong in your gardens.

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Author

I have a bachelor's degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies...I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.

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