Top Soil Vs Compost- What’s The Difference & What’s Best To Use?

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Last Updated on July 31, 2020

Almost all gardening advice gives great tips on both compost and topsoil use but not everybody understands the difference between topsoil vs compost.

Are you struggling to grow plants in poor soil? Is your garden full of clay or sandy soil that you want to replace? If so, you must be looking for ways to improve your garden by either using compost or buying topsoil.

We all know that getting the right soil is by ensuring it has the right nutrients to make the plants thrive. So what happens when the soil is poor?

We have put together information that you need to know what to use when your soil is not in its best state.

The Differences between Top Soil vs. Compost

What is topsoil? Topsoil is a layer of soil out of which your plants grow. It is relatively shallow. Depending on where it’s found, it contains organic matter and nutrients for your plants.

What is compost? Compost is a soil-enriching nutrient that comes from food scraps, dried leaves peelings, eggshells, cardboard, paper, etc. These materials are mixed together in a heap outside or a compost bin and left to decompose. Once well rotten, the mixture is good for the soil and used as manure.

Differences to Help you Choose between the Two

Compost Topsoil
Full of nutrients to enrich your garden Great for creating new gardens
Doubles up as mulch Great for leveling out a lawn
Saves landfills Helps eliminate weed
Needs space to prepare it Have to buy if you can’t access it from other farmers
Takes time to prepare and get ready Certain soils may come with contaminants

What is Best to Use Top Soil vs Compost?

Compost and topsoil are very similar to each other. It is very hard for farmers to distinguish between these two mediums. Adding a layer of topsoil or compost to your garden soil helps add important nutrients to depleted soils. Both equally help improve the overall quality of your current soil. There are many benefits to adding them to your soil because they bring in the nutrients required.

What is Best to Use Top Soil vs Compost?

Each of these two has special benefits to the soil and it’s hard to choose one over the other.  The best advice is to keep them both as they serve the soil differently. No one can replace the other!

  • The topsoil retains the soil structure and holds moisture far longer than the compost. It is also relatively affordable to buy.
  • The compost has more organic matter that the soil requires. The best part of the compost is how it releases its nutrients slowly. Therefore it’s used for an extended period of time.

Where to Buy Compost?

If you don’t have the time to make your own compost, the easiest way to buy compost is online, I have put together a list of products you may try:

  • Charlie’s Compost– it is made of chicken manure, corn stalks, straw, forest products, hay, clay, and beneficial microbe inoculants.
  • Wiggle Worm Worm Castings– is an all-purpose natural fertilizer and contains rich proportions of water-soluble nutrients.
  • Wakefield Biochar– biochar made of wood and compost blended with Mycorrhizal Fungi.
  • Fishnure– fish manure compost, it is an organic fertilizer and soil conditioning. The carbon source used to create the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio for this compost is oat straw.

Where to Buy Compost?


Ever had 2 pieces of valuable items that you want to choose one over the other. How easy was that decision? Which one did you choose and which one did you not? Do you think you made a wise choice to let one go? Was it wise to keep them both? Now you know, 2 valuables do not compete in the same category! They only go hand in hand!

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