These materials act as an amendment to improve the physical properties of soils and unless specified do not contain fertilizer (more Amendments & Fertilizers). Soil amendments are known to improve aeration and water infiltration as well as increase water- and nutrient-holding capacity.
An example of where you should use it is in very heavy clay soil, for all the reasons mentioned above. Read about the Benefits of Compost.
Amending a soil is not the same thing as mulching, although many mulches also are used as amendments. A mulch is left on the soil surface. Its purpose is to reduce evaporation and runoff, inhibit weed growth, and create an attractive appearance. Mulches also moderate soil temperature, helping to warm soils in the spring and cool them in the summer. Mulches may be incorporated into the soil as amendments after they have decomposed to the point that they no longer serve their purpose.
These products are purchased in cubic yard increments. To help you estimate how much you will need for your project, visit our yardage calculator
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