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What are the Benefits of Compost?

J. Beam
J. Beam

As recycling continues to prove a worthy effort, the benefits of using compost have been extensively studied. The results reveal physical, chemical, biological, and environmental benefits. There are many uses for compost, all of which have proven beneficial in some way.

Compost benefits the soil where it is used by improving drainage and moisture absorption, especially in soils that are otherwise poor quality. This makes growing in various types of soils easier and more productive. Compost also benefits the plant matter grown in the soil by providing nutrients to the plant’s growing area. Compost does not make an effective fertilizer for vegetable and ornamental plants, but it helps reduce runoff, making the use of fertilizer more productive and keeping it out of the water.

A compost bucket.
A compost bucket.

Environmentally, the use of compost has been shown to remediate, or clean up, contaminated soils by reducing toxic runoffs, binding certain toxins that might otherwise escape, and it prevents erosion when used near roadways, lakes, rivers, and streams. In addition to the biological, chemical, and environmental benefits of compost, the use of compost creates economic benefits. Using compost reduces the amount of fertilizer, water, and pesticides needed to produce healthy plants, and it is cheaper than artificial soils.

Compost improves soil.
Compost improves soil.

Many municipalities utilize a yard waste recycle center to create compost for use by the city and its residents. If your city has a yard waste recycle center, you can most likely drop off your leaves and grass clippings there. This not only helps the city in its efforts to be environmentally responsible, but many cities also offer the finished compost to their residents for gardening use.

Homeowners may rake thatch for compost, later returning it to the yard.
Homeowners may rake thatch for compost, later returning it to the yard.

If you decide to start your own compost pile, remember that you can add organic material rather than throwing it away. The nutrients in organic matter will enhance your composting pile. Be sure to keep your composting pile where scavenging critters can’t easily access it. Your compost pile will need to be turned to aerate about once a week, and in very dry conditions, you will need to add water. Compost is ready when the putrid smell has disappeared and it smells earthy, looks dark, and is relatively crumbly.

Compost provides nutrients to plants' growing areas.
Compost provides nutrients to plants' growing areas.

You can spread compost in your garden, on flower beds, around trees, and even on top of your lawn. Woody compost can be used as an alternative to synthetic mulch as well. When using compost, you can not only congratulate yourself on being environmentally responsible, but you can also enjoy the long-term benefits compost provides to your garden and flowerbeds.

Discussion Comments


I thinks I am discussing a serious matter here. We had placed a composting bin at our local school and it said, "composting machine" and people threw in cans and bottles, candy wrappers and food! I know some things can be composted but not all!


The article actually didn't mention my favorite benefit of composting--cutting down on trash! I use it to get rid of kitchen scraps and even paperboard cereal boxes, which are not recyclable in my area.

I just keep a compost bucket in my freezer and dump my vegetable scraps in there (to keep from stinking). When it's full, I take it out to the compost pile and cover it up with shredded cereal boxes or sawdust. (I use Feline Pine cat litter, which breaks down into compostable sawdust).

I agree with @ElizaBennet--you don't need to make composting super hard. Just dump your greens and browns together and mix! If problems arise, you can troubleshoot as necessary.


Composting looks hard if you start researching all the equipment, but it's not rocket science. You can make your own compost barrel easily. I used to do trash can composting. I bought a plastic garbage can with a lid, drilled drainage holes in the side, and started filling it with my compost! You can get two so that one can finish composting while you fill the other one up.

The only disadvantage of this kind is that you have to add some dirt to it to make sure you get some microorganisms, but it takes surprisingly little. One good shovelful did it for me.

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    • A compost bucket.
      By: Patryssia
      A compost bucket.
    • Compost improves soil.
      By: ilposeidone
      Compost improves soil.
    • Homeowners may rake thatch for compost, later returning it to the yard.
      By: viappy
      Homeowners may rake thatch for compost, later returning it to the yard.
    • Compost provides nutrients to plants' growing areas.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Compost provides nutrients to plants' growing areas.
    • Composting can keep biodegradable yard waste from taking up space in landfills.
      By: Manuela Manay
      Composting can keep biodegradable yard waste from taking up space in landfills.