Topsoil-mulch-compost: what’s the difference?
A: Topsoil-mulch-compost … when landscaping, understanding the difference between this dynamic soil trio is essential. Even more important is knowing what to use where and when.
A well-dressed landscape will include layers of different materials. This establishes an ideal environment for healthy growth. The foundation is topsoil, enriched with the compost and, finally, a mulch to blanket it all.
WHAT IS TOPSOIL?
Topsoil — it’s the layer between the layer of decaying matter on the surface and the subsoil.
If topsoil is poor, make your own. Add 2-3 inches of a quality compost product and incorporate to a depth of 6-8 inches. The goal is to reach a level of about 5 percent organic matter in the soil.
It is also possible to build to this level over time. Make lighter, but more frequent, compost applications raked into the top layer of soil.
But know these two products — compost and topsoil — are not interchangeable. Compost is not topsoil.
WHAT IS MULCH?
Mulch goes on top of soil
Mulch is a material applied to the soil surface to discourage weeds. A mulch supplies shade and reduces moisture loss through evaporation. Bark, wood chips, shredded yard waste, and sawdust are all used as mulch.
WHAT IS COMPOST?