Compost vs. Mulch - Knowledgebase Question

South Jordan, UT
Question by kjd1944
September 23, 2000
Is there a difference between compost and mulch?

Answer from NGA
September 23, 2000


The terms are often used interchangeably. However, compost is decomposed organic matter that can be incorporated into the soil to improve its fertility, structure, drainage (in clay soils) and water-holding capacity (in sandy soils).

Mulch usually refers to different types of organic matter that can be layered on top of the soil to moderate soil temperatures, reduce weed germination, and retain soil moisture. Compost can be used as a mulch, as can bark chips, straw, dried leaves, etc. Of course, all of these materials can also be used to make compost. Another way of looking at it, is that compost is generally in a more decomposed state than mulch. Hope this helps!

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