Compost vs Topsoil: Pros and Cons. Which one is better?
Compost is part of the natural cycle, which is the result of microbial decomposition of dead organic matter under the influence of oxygen (aerobic conditions). Topsoil is generally categorized as the outermost soil layer (typically five to ten inches deep), with the greatest concentration of beneficial microorganisms, nutrients, and organic matter. Both of them come with a broad range of benefits, but also some disadvantages, which should be considered beforehand. Rockland will help you consider the benefits and downsides of them to see which one suits you best.
1. Pros and Cons of Composting
- Improved Soil Structure: The soil becomes more crumbly and smooth, which facilitates root growth.
- Increase Soil pH: Compost added on top of the soil maintains the appropriate pH range necessary for plants to absorb nutrients.
- Higher water holding capacity, infiltration rate, and cation exchange capacity are all influenced by soil organic matter, which also improves soil aggregate stability.
- Bacteria, archaea, fungus, and protozoa present in compost contribute to the soils' increased microbial activity.
- Suppression of illnesses transmitted via the soil: Many composts have the capacity to inhibit the action of pathogens.
- Negative effects from the outside (such as bad weather, pollution, compaction, etc.) are better controlled and less stressful for the plants because of the soil's resilience.
- Composting is simple to do at home: Even young children may be taught the principles of how it works.
- Compost is not always available. Compost cannot be moved over great distances due to its weight and bulk, which is expensive.
- Composts may be contaminated with weed seeds, pathogenic viruses, and viable spores of bacterial and fungal diseases if they are not created properly.
- Costs: Processing the raw materials and delivering the compost to the fields both need expensive heavy equipment. Hiring contractors for input preparation, turning, screening, shipping, and application is often less expensive.
- It takes time to compost: Making your own high-quality compost takes at least three months, as opposed to visiting a gardening store and purchasing a bag of artificial fertilizer.
- Composting may produce odours and take up space: In the heat of the summer, it may still smell like decomposing matter. Additionally, you'll need room for a composting area.
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2. Pros and Cons of Topsoil
- It contains every nutrient required for plants to flourish properly.
- Organic matter decomposes and effectively filters through your current soil, enhancing its health and texture.
- It facilitates better water infiltration.
- It supplies the adhesive substance that binds water and dirt particles together for a longer period of time.
- decreases thatch
- reduces sloping caused by worm castings, the freeze-thaw cycle, or water runoff.
- It promotes the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms.
- It enables you to use less fertilizers.
- The main disadvantages of topsoil are that it can be difficult to predict its quality, it may contain pollutants and weed seeds, and it can be expensive.
- The quality of topsoil can vary greatly depending on the region and the supplier. It can be difficult to determine which topsoil will be the most suitable for a particular project. When you buy topsoil, there is no guarantee it won’t contain weed seeds or be contaminated in one way or another. Topsoil is often taken from natural deposits and may contain pollutants such as heavy metals or toxic organic compounds.
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3. Differences between compost and topsoil
Unlike topsoil, compost is not a naturally occurring substance. Instead, organic matter decomposes to produce compost, while organic matter and minerals gradually assemble to form topsoil over time. Compost is a great addition to the soil that is deficient in nutrients since it is significantly richer in nutrients than topsoil.
The way that compost and topsoil are used is another distinction. In order to increase the fertility and structure of existing soil, compost is most often employed as a soil supplement. Additionally, it may be used as mulch to control weed growth, maintain soil temperature, and save moisture. On the other hand, topsoil serves as the primary growing medium for plants since it offers part of the nutrients and support they need to develop.
4. Compost or Topsoil: Which is Better?
Now that we have looked at the pros and cons, it might be challenging to support one over the other. Take a look at the contrast.
Topsoil is the top layer of soil that is better for basic gardening tasks, while compost is the decomposed organic material suitable for pots or hungry plants. While compost is a slow-release fertilizer that excels at containing organic matter and minerals, topsoil is superior at holding moisture for a longer length of time. Topsoil includes weed seeds, previously used fertilizers, and insecticides while being less expensive. On that basis, compost is brimming with advantageous organisms despite being pricey. Given the above, there are a number of considerations that must be made in order to distinguish one as superior to another.
Compost is probably what you need if you want to create healthy gardens, nourish your container plants, or loosen up compacted soil. All of these requirements may be met by composting. The majority of gardeners, at least once a year top-dress their flowers, plants, and perennials using compost.
Contrarily, topsoil is often employed to establish a new yard or to improve rocky soil in your backyard. It may be dispersed over the top of your yard's soil. It will decompose over time and release nutrients into the soil. Compared to compost, topsoil is much better at holding onto its structure and moisture. To add bulk to raised beds, flowerbeds, or garden beds, topsoil may be utilized (but compost is preferable if you're just making a small area or raised bed). It doesn't provide your garden plants with all the nourishment they need on their own. This is why it is usually advised to combine topsoil with additional materials when filling new raised beds, such as compost and manure. In order to promote healthy plant development, dirt and compost are often used as filler in raised bed gardening. Typically, topsoil is only applied to a garden bed once, and each year after that, it is replenished with organic compost.
For instance, you should aim to increase the depth of your topsoil layer before establishing a new lawn. Usually, 2-3 inches of fresh topsoil is sufficient. You may sow the grass seeds once the dirt has been deposited. Add a layer of compost as a topdress to your new grass afterward. The grass seeds will be covered with compost, which will shield them from birds and other pests. The new topsoil will eventually absorb it, generating nutrient-rich soil that can support beautiful, healthy lawns.
Where to find high-quality Topsoil and Compost
At Rockland, we provide the best quality Topsoil and Compost at competitive prices. You can receive them in bulk or in big bags. We will deliver them to your yard right away.
For additional information, call 780-239-7625, email email@example.com, or fill out our contact form.
Call our landscaping yards in South Edmonton or St. Albert to start your project now, or browse our “Rooms by Design” for ideas.