Beyond the Basics: 10 Unexpected Uses for Compost

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Are you aware of the countless ways that compost can be used? From enriching soil to reducing waste, compost is a versatile and powerful tool for individuals, communities, and governments alike. Whether you’re a gardener looking to boost your plants’ growth, a farmer seeking sustainable solutions, or a city planner aiming to reduce landfill waste, compost has something to offer.

In this article, we will explore 10 surprising ways that compost can be used, highlighting its benefits and applications in various contexts. So, if you’ve ever asked yourself “what is compost used for?” or are curious about how this simple, yet effective method can benefit you, keep reading!

  1. Use compost as a natural fertilizer. Compost, nature’s black gold, is an outstanding natural fertilizer. It is nutrient-rich and acts as the perfect food for your plants. Compost benefits plants and animals alike by introducing the essential building blocks into the soil that plants require to thrive. It’s no wonder that the question “what is compost used for” often points to fertilization first.
  2. Use compost as a soil conditioner. The environmental benefits of composting become crystal clear when you see how it improves soil. Adding compost to your garden or field helps break down organic waste, like food scraps and yard waste. Over time, this process transforms the soil into a more fertile and resilient medium, perfect for growing a wide variety of crops.
  3. Use compost for planting. Composting systems work wonders for planting as well. Before adding your new plants to the ground, mix in some finished compost to provide a nutritional boost. This soil amendment significantly enhances the soil’s ability to support plant growth, leading to more robust plants and plentiful harvests.
  4. Use compost for erosion control. Erosion is a significant concern for gardeners and farmers, and here, compost comes to the rescue again. The organic material in compost improves soil structure, helping it stick together and resist being washed away by rain or blown away by wind. Applying compost for erosion control is a sustainable and efficient method for preserving your landscape.
  5. Use compost for weed suppression. Weeds can be a gardener’s nightmare. Luckily, compost can serve as an organic weed suppressor. Layering compost on your garden’s surface can help hinder weed growth, keeping your greens and browns from the competition. This is one of the lesser-known benefits of composting, but a game-changer for anyone striving for a weed-free garden.
  6. Use compost for pest control. Pests are another challenge in maintaining a healthy garden. Here too, compost can help. Certain composting systems encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms that can help control pests. The process breaks down organic waste into compounds that deter harmful bugs, reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
  7. Use compost as mulch. Using compost as mulch is another unexpected and beneficial practice. A layer of compost around your plants acts like a protective blanket. It not only helps retain moisture but also slowly releases nutrients into the soil as it breaks down. This method, involving wood chips or other organic waste, is an excellent alternative to traditional mulch options.
  8. Use compost for lawn care. Lawn care can be made easy with compost too. Regularly adding compost to your lawn keeps the soil beneath healthy and nutrient-rich. Even the most weary-looking lawns can benefit from this compost treatment. This organic material improves the soil’s resilience and ability to retain water, creating a lush and vibrant lawn.
  9. Use compost for water conservation. Water conservation is a crucial aspect of sustainable gardening, and using compost can play a significant role here. Compost improves soil’s water-holding capacity, reducing the amount of watering needed. It’s a simple but effective way to help conserve water while still maintaining a thriving garden.
  10. Use composting to reduce landfill waste. Everyday food waste, yard waste, and other compostable items can be diverted from the trash bin to the compost bin to await transportation to your local commercial composter. Over time, this organic waste breaks down into a nutrient-rich soil amendment, completing a full cycle of life. This practice significantly cuts down on the amount of waste going to landfills, which, in turn, helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

In conclusion, compost is a versatile and eco-friendly resource that can be used in numerous ways. Whether you’re a gardener, community member, or government agency, there are many ways to use compost to achieve your goals and benefit the planet. By using compost, we can improve soil health, conserve water, reduce waste, and promote a more sustainable future for all.

Food loss and waste occur at each stage of the supply chain. The biggest proportion (about 37%) happens in the home.

ReFED, 2021