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The gardening terms mulch and compost are often used interchangeably. That said, there are a couple of factors that make the two distinctly different.

Compost and mulch are both made up of organic materials, so it can be a bit confusing as to how they actually differ.

What is the difference between mulch and compost? The easiest way to look at the differences between mulch and compost is that compost is decomposed organic material that makes a healthy soil amendment, while mulch is organic material that is not fully decomposed and is used for a number of purposes outside of enriching the soil.

What Exactly is Compost?

Compost is made up of sod, weeds, left-over plant matter (clippings from your garden), kitchen waste such as food scraps, eggshells, and other organic materials that will decompose within six months to a year. Compost is almost singularly used for adding to the garden’s soil, packing plug trays, or filling containers.

What Exactly is Mulch?

Mulch consists of organic materials including straw, dried grass, leaves, wood chips, pine needles, and pebbles. It is often seen as more versatile than compost. It is used as a soil erosion reducer, a form of weed control, and as a means of temperature and moisture control.

A Final Word About Compost and Mulch

More or less, compost is what mulch becomes. Mulch, being grass, plant trimmings, clippings, and food scraps from the kitchen as well as weeds from the garden and around the yard.

Hopefully our article helps clear up the difference between these two similar but different gardening terms for you.

Just remember, compost is what you grow plants in and mulch is what you use to feed and protect the plants.

Questions? Comments? Let us know in the comments section!


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