Avid gardeners will tell you that making your own compost is the thing to do.
This means you will need a compost-making kit or bin in your garden that you fill with grass cuttings, fallen leaves, veggie peels, food waste, and the like.
Perhaps this is not for you. I prefer to buy compost ready-made in a bag. It is far less fuss and simpler.
When shopping for garden compost, you have a large choice. You can buy an all-purpose mix that is ideal for lawns, shrubs, beds, borders, trees, or vegetables.
You can also get more focused and look for mixes that are specifically formulated for lawns, cacti, vegetables, herbs, or roses.
Some composts contain worm castings and others contain manure. Some come in a loose form and others come in dehydrated pellets.
You can also find different combinations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
All these choices can be daunting for a beginner.
So, let’s better take a look at 12 different compost brands that are available on the market.
You can then decide which one is best for you.
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- 1 12 Best Composts for Garden
- 1.1 Best all-purpose compost: Dr. Earth Life Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer
- 1.2 Best earthworm casting compost: Sun Gro Black Gold Earthworm Castings
- 1.3 Best compost with organic peat moss: Espoma PTM8 8-Quart Organic Peat Moss
- 1.4 Best compost for vegetables: Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
- 1.5 Best compost for perfect PH balance: FoxFarm Happy Frog Nutrient Rich and pH Adjusted Rapid Growth
- 1.6 Best compost for lawns: Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun and Shade
- 1.7 Best compost for no odor: Four Shovels Pure Organic Ready To Use
- 1.8 Best compost for cactus: Espoma 4-Quart Organic Cactus Mix
- 1.9 Best compost starter that is people and pet safe: Dr. Earth Pure and Natural Compost Starter
- 1.10 Hoffman 20505 Dehydrated Super Manure 4-2-3
- 1.11 Plantation Products 8QT Professional Grade Vermiculite
- 1.12 Michigan Peat Baccto Lite Premium Potting Soil
- 2 Why should I use compost?
- 3 What to look for in quality compost?
12 Best Composts for Garden
An all-purpose compost is a must-have for any garden. All-purpose compost can be used in beds, borders, on grass, for hedges, and trees.
It is also ideal for containers, hanging baskets, and pots.
It is your go-to compost when you need to give your plants a boost.
Dr. Earth 736P Life Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer comes in a large 4 pound (1.8 kilos) bag.
It is certified organic and is safe to use in homes where you have pets and children.
The compost is formed into pellets, of more or less the same size.
I like using pellets. They are easy to pour out and I don’t end up getting covered in loose compost, which can be rather unpleasant.
The compost has a Pro-Biotic formula that contains mycorrhizae and beneficial soil microbes.
Mycorrhizae is a type of good fungus that allows the plant to draw in nutrients and moisture.
The formula also contains 11% humic acid. Humic acid also helps plants to absorb nutrients and water from the soil.
The composition of the compost is a 5-5-5 formulation. The first number refers to the nitrogen content, the second one is for phosphorus, and the third is for potassium.
This means that this formula has equal quantities of each.
- Great all-purpose mix
- Organic and safe
- Pellet formation
- Contains microbes and mycorrhizae
- Well balanced 5-5-5 formulation
- Some users complained about a strong smell after watering
Best earthworm casting compost: Sun Gro Black Gold Earthworm Castings
For new gardeners, worm castings may sound like a strange concept.
Experienced people with green thumbs will tell you that they are a great source of nutrients and beneficial microbes.
Unknown to many, worms eat food scraps and digest the organic material.
The castings are very valuable when added to soil or used as a top dressing.
Thus, it’s no wonder that plants love worm castings.
Sun Gro Black Gold Earthworm Castings comes in an 8 quart (7.5 liters) bag. It is ideal for organic gardening.
You can add the casting to the soil to enrich it. It can also be used in beds, borders, pots, and containers.
This mix is ideal to make worm tea. Place a large scoop into a coffee filter and tie closed.
Place the filter into a bucket of water and allow the nutrients to filter into the water for a few days.
You have a rich mixture that you can spray onto plants or pour onto your soil.
- Good price
- Contains real worm castings
- Great for organic gardening
- Can be used to make compost worm-tea
- Can help to discourage whiteflies
- Some people may not enjoy the concept of working with worm castings
Best compost with organic peat moss: Espoma PTM8 8-Quart Organic Peat Moss
Peat moss is a vital component of healthy well-draining soil.
It helps to hold and release moisture, ensuring that plants get enough water, while not allowing the roots to stagnate.
Peat moss also retains nutrients, allowing plants time to absorb them, before the water washes them away.
The Espoma PTM8 8-Quart Organic Peat Moss comes in an 8 quart (7.5 liters) bag. Being organic and all-natural, it contains no chemicals or additives.
Adding sphagnum peat moss to your soil will help to loosen heavy clogged soils and improve aeration.
Soils that are very compacted are not good for plants. Water does not drain out and the roots will rot when they stand in pools of water for long periods of time.
You can use this mix in your larger gardens. It is also ideal for the pots or containers found on your patio or even indoors.
The product claims to improve root growth which is a bonus. Plants with strong healthy roots last longer and grow faster.
- Made from all-natural products
- Helps to loosen compacted soil
- Improves root growth
- Helps to retain moisture
- Aids in aerating the soil
- Won’t repel fungus gnats
Having your own vegetable garden is a rewarding experience. Aside from eating the freshest, most nutritious veggies, you also save money.
Dr. Earth has compost formulated especially for tomatoes, vegetables, and herbs. It comes in a 4 pound (1.8 kilos) bag that is easy to carry and manage.
The blend provides the best levels of the most important plant nutrients. It is made of 100% organic and natural ingredients and eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers.
In the mix, you will find seven strains of beneficial soil microbes, pro-biotic, and ecto and endo mycorrhizae.
Mycorrhizae is a type of good fungus that allows plants to draw in nutrients and moisture.
One “serving” of Dr. Earth will feed plants for several months. So you will probably only need to use it once in Spring and once in Summer.
Use this on your large and small vegetable gardens and you will see a difference in the quality of your produce.
- 100% organic and natural ingredients
- Provides optimum levels of primary plant nutrients
- Feed lasts for several months
- Pro-biotic with seven strains of beneficial soil microbes
- Ecto and endo mycorrhizae
- Improves the quality of vegetables
- Not to be used as an all-purpose compost
Best compost for perfect PH balance: FoxFarm Happy Frog Nutrient Rich and pH Adjusted Rapid Growth
Having soil with a well-balanced PH value is vital for healthy plant growth.
PH is a measure of how acidic or basic your soil is. The range is indicated from 0 to 14. 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic and above 7 indicates a base.
If your soil’s too acidic, many plants will not flourish and may even die.
FoxFarm Happy Frog Nutrient Rich and pH Adjusted Rapid Growth compost claims to be PH adjusted for optimal growth.
Having a well-balanced pH allows the plants to take in the maximum amount of nutrients from the soil and water.
This mixture contains beneficial mycorrhizal fungi and soil microbes. It will strengthen root development in all types of plants.
You can use this mix right out of the bag in your garden and in your pots.
It is light textured and well aerated. Thus, you can use it for raised beds, borders, trees, and hedges.
You can also use it in pots and planters, outdoors or indoors.
- PH adjusted for maximum nutrient intake
- Well aerated and light-textured
- Contains perlite and peat
- Contains beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizal fungi
- Enhances fruit and flower production
- The bag size is a bit large and heavy for some ladies!
Best compost for lawns: Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun and Shade
Every gardener longs for a beautiful green lawn. A place where people can relax and picnic, and kids and pets can play.
Getting your lawn lush and green is easier than you think with Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun and Shade.
This blend has been formulated specifically for lawns.
Using an all-purpose compost may do the trick.
But I would rather use a product that focuses on my specific problem, which at the moment is a patchy, dry, and sad lawn.
This is a 3-in-1 solution that includes fertilizer, seeds, and soil improver. The fertilizer will give you a thick green lawn.
The seeds are a very smart idea. They fill in the gaps in your lawn and grow new lawn without you having to plant any.
The soil improver boosts the growth of the roots.
You only need one application of compost for this to work. Use a spreader to get an even covering. Water well and allow to dry.
If your lawn is in very bad condition, you may want to repeat the process after two weeks.
- Made specifically for lawns
- Contains seeds, fertilizer, and soil improver
- Easy to use
- Only needs 1 application
- Will give a 50% thicker lawn covering
- The seeds take longer to sprout if the ground is not properly prepared
Best compost for no odor: Four Shovels Pure Organic Ready To Use
One drawback about loading up your garden with compost is the smell.
But, with Four Shovels, you are assured of a compost that is odor-free.
This rich, dark compost is ready-to-use and is a great all-purpose mix. It is ideal for organic gardens.
The compost can be used for flowers, trees, hedges, shrubs, fruits, and vegetables.
The mix contains no chemicals, no pesticides, and no agricultural runoff.
Mix it into your soil and you will find that is great to retain moisture and encourage strong root growth.
- No odor
- No chemicals
- No pesticides
- Retains moisture
- Great all-purpose compost for shrubs, fruits, vegetables, trees
- Better for plants that want an alkaline soil
Best compost for cactus: Espoma 4-Quart Organic Cactus Mix
Even though a cactus is a hardy and drought-resistant plant, you don’t want to neglect your prickly friends.
Espoma 4-Quart Organic Cactus Mix is a formula specifically made for cacti.
It is an all-natural mix that contains myco-tone. Myco-tone increases water intake, promotes root growth, and reduces drought stress.
This formula helps to retain moisture and improves aeration in the soil.
This mix comes in a 4 quart (3.7 liters) bag. You can use it for all types of succulents and cactus plants.
It is also good for citrus trees. So plant a lemon tree and make your own lemonade!
- Formulated for specifically cactus plants
- All-natural mix
- Enhanced with myco-tone
- Promotes water retention
- Improves aeration
- Do not use as an all-purpose mix
Best compost starter that is people and pet safe: Dr. Earth Pure and Natural Compost Starter
When you have children and pets digging and playing in your garden, safety is a factor.
The last thing you want is to have a chemical additive in your soil that will cause them harm.
Dr. Earth 727 Pure and Natural Compost Starter caught my eye because it specifically states that it is people and pet friendly.
It is made from 100% natural and organic components. The mix contains seaweed extract, alfalfa meal, and beneficial soil microbes.
Using this mix is a quick way to create real humus.
For those who don’t know, humus is an organic material that forms naturally when plant and animal matter decay.
To create your own humus, you would collect fallen leaves, animal droppings, twigs, cut grass, and other similar natural materials. You would then allow them to decay over a period of time.
It is so much easier and faster to buy a starter compost bag and in no time you get the same benefits.
When your compost is ready, you can use it on your lawn, in beds, borders, around trees, and also in your pots.
- 100% natural and organic
- Creates real humus
- Versatile for all composting needs
- People and pet safe
- Contains seaweed extract, alfalfa meal, and beneficial soil microbes
- A few users didn’t feel that it sped up the process of making compost
Hoffman 20505 Dehydrated Super Manure 4-2-3
If you want to get back to basics, nothing beats a Super Manure made from poultry manure.
This compost comes in a form of dehydrated pellets. It will improve your soil texture with a mix of 4-2-3, nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium.
The mix is easy to use and builds humus fast. Use it on your beds, borders, shrubs, trees, lawns, and hedges.
It is also great to use in your veggie garden.
The mix encourages earthworm activity.
Earthworms digest plant and animal material. They then produce castings that break down in water and release vital nutrients that plants thrive on.
- Dehydrated poultry manure
- Pellet form that is easy to use
- Improves soil texture
- Builds humus content
- Encourages earthworm activity
- May smell bad for a while when wet
Plantation Products 8QT Professional Grade Vermiculite
Vermiculite is not something that everyone is familiar with. I certainly wasn’t.
So after doing some research, I found out that Vermiculite is a type of silicate material and comes in the form of compressed dry flakes.
So, what does this have to do with my garden?
Vermiculite is very good for plants and creates ideal growing conditions.
It improves the moisture retention of the soil. It also increases water retention while still allowing good drainage.
Plantation Products 8QT Vermiculite is a professional-grade product. As such, it will work wonders in your home garden.
It comes in an 8 quart (7.5 liters) pack.
You can use it as an all-purpose soil conditioner. It is also ideal for starting seedlings in a seed tray.
If you are propagating cuttings, place them into a mix of soil and Vermiculite to boost their growth.
- Professional grade product
- Enhances aeration
- Loosens soil
- Retains water
- Great for seedlings and propagation
- Some users complained that a single bag did not go far enough
Michigan Peat Baccto Lite Premium Potting Soil
For new gardeners who are experimenting with starting seeds or propagating cuttings, a rich, fertile soil is a must-have.
Michigan Peat Baccto Lite Premium Potting Soil is formulated specifically for this.
It contains pre-moistened sphagnum peat. Peat aids the soil in retaining water but also allows good drainage.
It also helps to retain nutrients in the moisture, vital for new seeds or cuttings.
The product comes in an 8 quart (7.5 liter) bag and can be used straight out of the bag.
It also includes added fertilizer in a separate package, which you can add once your cuttings take root.
This product can be used both outdoors and indoors.
- Great for seeds and propagating cuttings
- Easy to users
- Contains sphagnum peat
- Has added fertilizer package
- Ideal for indoors and outdoors
- Not organic
Why should I use compost?
Creating a garden is fun and rewarding. But your soil may not always be ideal for encouraging the best plant growth.
You may find your new home has less than fertile soil and nothing seems to grow.
There are many benefits of using compost.
- It enriches and feeds the soil by adding vital nutrients
- It can repel pests and reduce plant diseases
- It encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi. These organisms break down the organic matter to create humus. Humus is a nutrient-filled material that boosts and strengthens root growth.
- Organic compost makes good use of natural waste – great for the planet.
- Compost speeds up the growth of plants by giving them easy access to nutrients.
- Composts can be formulated for specific plants. You can get mixes for cactus, roses, lawns, veggies, and herbs. These formulations will make your plants flourish and look great, which is what every gardener wants.
What to look for in quality compost?
Size of the bag
Cost and size are important when choosing compost.
A bag may look cheaper but you could find that it contains a smaller quantity of compost inside. Do some comparisons to get the best value for money.
I always go for an eco-friendly organic mix whenever possible. It fits in with my green-living lifestyle.
Organic mixes are also child and pet safe.
Pellets or loose components
Some compost comes in the form of compacted pellets. When pouring them out of the bag, there will be less mess than loose components.
The pellets usually need more water to soak through them before they break down and start to release their nutrients into the soil.
Type of bag sealer
Compost left standing in a bag can dry out fast if it is exposed to the air. This will also reduce its effectiveness when used.
Check the packaging that the compost comes in. Some bags have airtight seals which are ideal.
If not, you may consider storing your left-over compost in a compost bin or an air-tight drum.
Special use compost
All-purpose compost is ideal for most plants in your garden.
If you are becoming more familiar with gardening, you may want to look for specialized mixes that are formulated for roses, cacti, veggies, or herbs.
Only a few compost brands claim to actively repel bugs and gnats.
Thus, when opening a bag of compost, check that there are no small creatures running around! A reputable brand of compost should never introduce bugs into your soil.
I have found, however, that this is an ongoing complaint that many users have had to deal with, in a number of different brands.
Certain composts are made of ingredients that tend to have a strong odor, especially when wet.
This applies mostly to products that contain worm castings or manure.
You will find that the smell will evaporate after a while. If you have a problem with bad smells, look for a mix that states that it is odor-free.
Packaging sizes available
Most home gardeners will buy compost in ready-to-use bags.
However, if you are gardening on a very large scale, you can order a bulk lot of compost by the cubic yard from a supplier.
It will arrive on a truck and be dumped onto your premises.
Ensure, though, that you have enough space to store it and that you can deal with the distribution of the compost into your garden.
So far, has any product that has caught your attention? If you do, what are you waiting for?
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Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.