Topsoil vs Compost: Never Confuse them Again!

Have you ever heard the term topsoil & compost? Well, in most parts of the country, it is used interchangeably with soil. The truth is that topsoil is the brownish-black stuff you see in the ground. Compost is first broken down, and it is a combination of decaying organic matter.

So, what’s the difference between topsoil and compost?

In most cases, it’s OK to buy both. You can certainly decide which one you prefer by using your judgment. However, if you need clarification on topsoil vs compost or need to know a little more about the topic, you’ve come to the right place.

What is compost?

Compost is an organic process that happens naturally when organic matter breaks down. It’s the perfect bed of bacteria and fungi that breathes life into the soil. During this process, the majority of nutrients are retained. As a result, your crops will grow faster. Compost is a perfect fertilizer because it has more nitrogen than most topsoils.

Compost is organic waste that has been decomposed. Once you have a top-quality compost bin in your backyard, you may already be seeing your old veg scraps turn into a lush, earthy substance over time. Fast results can be obtained by hot composting or worm composting.


Once-living things are used in producing 100 % natural materials.

Microbial activity:

The high biological activity of compost contributes to its teeming with bacteria and fungal life.

Fibrous structure:

The carbon material structure improves the soil’s moisture-retaining capacity by improving drainage.


Compost made from diverse ingredients provides several micro-nutrients.


The compost that has been completed is crunchy and dark in color.

Compost Recipe:

  • To create your carbon layer, you need about 4 to 6 inches of straw, moss, wood chips, or shredded leaves
  • Use a water hose to speed up the process of decomposing waste.
  • Grass clippings or vegetable scraps can comprise up to 2-4 inches of green material that forms the nitrogen layer.
  • You can boost this mixture with organic fertilizer if you want.
  • Set the pile upright and water it until it is around 4-5 feet high.
  • In addition to the carbon material, you can add some fungal inoculants if you want to increase the composting process.
  • Mixing the pile is vital to decompose all materials.
  • When the compost is dark and crumbly, it is ready to use. Be sure to let it decompose.

Benefits of using Compost:

  1.  Soil and environmental protection: It can protect the soil by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It also absorbs excess water and accelerates decomposition, maintaining good soil quality.
  2.  Protection from diseases: Crop diseases such as tomato wilt virus, plant-parasitic nematodes, and root rot are prevented using compost.
  3.  Compost improves air quality: Using compost reduces air pollution by filtering out toxins that affect human health, such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide.
  4. Organic fertilizer: Compost is a rich source of organic matter, essential to maintaining compost quality over time because dead organic matter decays quickly at high temperatures (140 degrees Celsius).

Further reading: Worm Castings VS Compost

What is topsoil?

Topsoil is the upper layer of soil that is formed by the decomposition of dead plants and animals. It covers our land and is mixed with different types of soils. It can be natural, which means it comes from eroded rocks and minerals, or it can be artificial.

Your topsoil may be several inches thick in areas of poor soils, or it may be nonexistent in areas where topsoil is plentiful.

Mineral and mostly Inorganic:

It consists of sand, silt, and clay. There are different amounts of organic matter in the sand, mud, and clay.

Microbial activity:

Topsoil has less biological activity than compost because of the quantity of organic matter.

Can lack structure:

Much water is retained in clay soils, but they must be workable because sandy soils drain too quickly.


The nutrients in clay soil stay longer than in most sandy soils, which are too easy to clean. Clay soils contain fewer nutrients than compost.


The color of soil can be affected by the amount of organic matter present. Topsoil is light in color because it contains less organic matter than darker soils.

Benefits of using topsoil:

  1.  It breaks down much faster than a bag of compost.
  2. It holds water and nutrients better than compost.
  3. It can be used in gardens, flower beds, garage floors, and play areas for children.
  4. It is also excellent for use around homes, offices, farms, and other buildings as a mulch to prevent weeds and retain moisture.
  5. It is wonderful to use as a natural lawn fertilizer because it contains many necessary compounds that herbs need, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
  6. To change the composition of existing soil, or to create new garden beds with high-quality topsoil, add high-quality topsoil.


When should you use topsoil?

After a new construction or renovation of a garden or lawn, a grade can be achieved by applying new soil. Topsoil should be balanced by draining water from gardens and structures—correct drainage patterns by adding topsoil. Topsoil must often be imported by adding to an area, green, or creating a lawn to maintain structure and to have the money spent on large amounts of compost. After grading, compost must be added to the topsoil.

Can you mix topsoil and compost?

Yes, it is possible to mix topsoil with compost, and Creating new raised beds or borders is a good use of both topsoil and compost if you are trying to achieve both results.

Can you use fertilizer instead of compost?

Not quite. Fertilizer is an excellent addition to soil mixes, but it releases nutrients quicker and is more expensive (especially if you make your compost). It doesn’t do a thing for the structure of the ground—it just changes the texture.

What is hummus?

Humus is a product of decomposition. It is the heart of healthy soil. You cannot have healthy soil without humus. Humus is compost that has broken down to the slightest degree possible. Having more nutrients available makes this an excellent amendment to your soil.

Compost vs. Fertilizer- The Difference

Compost is a nutrient-rich product of decomposition, which occurs from the breakdown of organic matter. When materials are broken down and become compost, they become a source of nutrients for growing plants. Fertilizers are manufactured substances that are chemical based and contain added nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. They have the added benefit of being much more readily available to plants than compost.


In this article, I tried to explain the difference between compost and fertilizer, the science behind it, and its usage. The difference between compost and topsoil. is that topsoil is chemical based while compost is organic. I hope you like this article. If you have any questions, you can leave a comment.