Choosing the Best Compost for Your Garden

When it comes to improving soil health and providing nutrients for plants, nothing beats the natural power of compost. Composting recycles yard and household waste into a rich, organic fertilizer and soil amendment that fuels plant growth. The best compost enriches soil, conserves water, and feeds plants while avoiding chemical additives.

But with the dizzying array of compost products available, how do you know which one is right for your garden? Here is an overview of the major types of compost and what to look for when selecting the ideal compost for your needs.

Benefits of Using Compost

Before diving into the options. let’s review the key benefits that make compost an invaluable addition to any garden

  • Adds organic matter to improve soil texture and structure
  • Provides a diverse blend of essential macro and micronutrients
  • Improves moisture retention and drainage in soil
    -Buffers soil pH and balances acidity
  • Suppresses plant diseases and discourages pests
  • Reduces reliance on chemical fertilizers
  • Recycles yard and household waste back into the soil

Main Types of Compost

There are two primary categories of compost – homemade compost produced on-site and bagged compost purchased commercially. Both have their advantages depending on your needs.

Homemade Compost

Composting at home allows you to recycle your own yard and kitchen waste into a free, custom soil amendment. Home composting methods include

  • Compost piles
  • Enclosed compost bins
  • Tumblers with turning mechanisms
  • Vermicomposting using worms

With a bit of trial and error you can create compost tailored to your garden’s needs.

Pros: Free, recycles waste, made locally
Cons: Takes effort and attention, limited volumes produced

Purchased Bagged Compost

If managing an active compost pile at home seems daunting, don’t despair. Bagged compost offers an easy, convenient alternative:

  • Sold in bulk bags or smaller retail sizes
  • Produced commercially in high volumes
  • Widely available from garden stores, nurseries, landscapers

When purchasing bagged compost, look for options made using organic waste materials and avoid those with synthetic chemical additives.

Pros: Easy to use, available anywhere, large volumes
Cons: Costs money, ingredients less controlled

What Makes the Best Quality Compost?

Whether you make compost yourself or buy it bagged, look for compost that is:

  • Dark brown and crumbly – Sign of thorough decomposition
  • Earthy smell – Avoids odor of raw ingredients like manure
  • Fine texture – Easier for plants to access nutrients
  • Moist but not wet – Good aeration and not waterlogged
  • Weed and pest free – No viable seeds or pathogens

Higher quality compost leads to happier, more productive plants.

Best Composts for Specific Uses

Certain compost products are better suited to particular gardening needs:

  • Vegetable gardens – Compost higher in nitrogen like chicken manure
  • Flower beds – Balanced blends ideal for all-purpose use
  • Containers – Finely-screened compost won’t compact
  • Acid-loving plants – Compost made with pine needles or bark
  • Trees and shrubs – Coarser compost provides longer feeding
  • Seed-starting – Finely-sifted compost gentle for seedlings

Choose compost tailored to the plants you intend to use it for.

How to Use Compost Effectively

To maximize the benefits of compost, follow these simple tips:

  • Add 2-3 inches of compost when preparing new garden beds
  • Mix 1-2 inches of compost into the top 6 inches of existing beds annually
  • For containers, blend 20-30% compost into potting mix
  • Top dress around plants with 1⁄2 – 1 inch of compost yearly
  • Mix compost into planting holes when transplanting plants
  • Spread seed starter mix containing compost when sowing seeds
  • Brew compost “tea” by steeping compost in water, then apply the liquid as fertilizer

Making Homemade Garden Compost

While purchased compost offers convenience, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of producing your own compost at home. Here’s an overview of how to create quality compost yourself:

  • Balance ingredients – Mix “greens” like grass clippings with “browns” like leaves in a 50/50 ratio
  • Chop materials – Cutting things into smaller pieces speeds decomposition
  • Aerate the pile – Turn it or add pipes to improve interior air flow
  • Control moisture – Water when needed to keep the compost damp but not soggy
  • Size matters – Aim for a minimum pile size of 3′ x 3′ x 3′ to generate heat
  • Time it right – Allow finished compost to cure for 3-6 months before using

With a little practice, you can create an endless supply of free garden compost without leaving home.

Choosing the Best Store-Bought Compost Brands

For those who prefer the convenience of bagged compost, it pays to choose your products carefully. Here are some of the top pre-made compost brands:

  • Espoma Organic – Highly versatile compost suitable for vegetables, flowers, and containers
  • Black Kow – Well-rounded manure compost for general gardening use
  • Dr. Earth – Nutrient-rich compost with proprietary blends of microbes
  • Scotts Organic – Trusted brand for beginners, made with simple ingredients
  • Miracle-Gro Organic Choice – Contains extra nutrients for heightened fertility
  • Down to Earth – Vegan compost options with no animal ingredients

Look for compost made using high-quality, organic source materials to avoid synthetic chemicals.

Using Compost to Nourish Your Garden

In the end, the “best” compost is whatever product nourishes your garden’s soil and plants based on your specific needs and environmental factors. While pre-made compost offers convenience, homemade compost lets you control quality and customize nutrient levels.

The beauty of compost lies in its incredible ability to transform waste into vital energy to foster plant growth. By harnessing the power of compost, you’ll enrich your soil, reduce reliance on chemicals, and enjoy more beautiful and productive plants.

Give your plants the support they need for healthy growth

Don’t just use the soil from your garden if you want to make a beautiful garden with beautiful flowers and fruit that grows well. Select the correct compost to help your plants, fruits, and flowers get off to the best possible start.

Compost has a superior structure to normal garden soil – both nutritionally and physically. Fertilizer is often mixed into compost, which gives your plants the nutrients they need for several weeks, no matter what stage of growth they are in. Organic matter will be added to some of them to help change the soil’s physical structure, making it richer or denser so that it can hold more water.

Keeping your garden green with peat free compost

We made it easy to garden in a way that doesn’t harm the environment by making a line of peat-free Verve and GoodHome composts. When people dig for peat, they release the carbon that is stored in peatlands into the air, which hurts habitats and speeds up climate change. When you take care of your plot with peat-free materials, you’re also taking care of wildlife and the environment. Natural materials like wood and coir are used to make peat-free composts. This makes them better for the environment without affecting how well they work.

Compost Review My top 2 choices of store bought Compost Review


What’s the best type of compost?

Loam Based Compost Loam-based compost is a combination of soil, sand, and clay that has been decomposed and processed to create a deep, rich product that is ideal for growing vegetables. Loam-based compost can be purchased commercially or created at home using a simple composting bin.

Which compost is best for all plants?

Multi-purpose compost, also referred to as ‘all purpose’ or ‘universal’, is suitable for many planting jobs in the garden, and contains varying levels of feed that will feed plants from five weeks up to six months. It’s available in organic and enriched varieties, and comes in all different sizes.

What is the best compost to top the soil?

Multi-purpose or all-purpose peat free compost A good quality peat free compost such as Miracle-Gro Premium Peat Free, can be used for pots and containers, planting in beds and borders, sowing larger seeds and taking cuttings as well as for growing fruit and vegetables.

What is the perfect compost?

Aim for a 50:50 Mix of Greens and Browns Think grass clippings, spent crops, old bedding plants, annual weeds (seed-free so you don’t inadvertently spread them about in the final compost), and kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings and fruit peels. Not all greens are obvious.

Which compost is best for plants?

A rich compost full of manure, plant waste, and yard waste is the best option for vegetable gardens. This provides the plants with a well-rounded source of nutrients that promotes healthy and happy plants. With rich compost, you’ll be able to enjoy a hearty harvest in no time. Which compost is best for flowers?

What is a good compost pile?

Green matter (“greens”): These are nitrogen-rich materials like grass clippings, weeds, manure, or kitchen scraps. Greens should have carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of about 30:1. Water: The pile should be kept consistently moist, especially important if you add lots of dry leaves or hay.

What makes a good potting compost?

The right balance of nutrients – a good seed or potting compost should have the right balance of nutrients to grow a range of plants during this stage of their development, whereas a multipurpose compost should be able to support plants at all growth stages.

What are the different types of compost?

There are two main types of compost: multipurpose and composts for specific use, such as raising plants from seed or growing plants in patio containers. Claimed to be suitable for germinating seeds, small seedlings and plants in patio containers, it’s a good general compost, but our tests show that not all are great for all jobs.

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