Compost is one of the best things you can add to your yard; it enriches it with valuable nutrients and helps to give your plants a boost, and it’s ideal for planting new, young plants so that they get the best possible start in life.
However, there’s the cost factor to consider, especially when it comes to big yard projects.
A yard of compost often costs between $25 and $35, depending on several different factors. You may find that compost goes for more in your area, sometimes up to $40 or even $50. However, as a rule of thumb, $35 is a good estimate, and you should be wary of costs below $25 unless there is a clear reason for the low price!
How Much Compost Do I Need?
Compost may be sold by the yard, and if so, you need to work out how much compost you’ll need to cover the space that you’re looking at and help to enrich the soil with enough nutrients to be worth doing. If you spread your compost too thin, it won’t have the desired effect and make your garden happy.
How much you need obviously depends on the size of the area that you wish to cover, but you also need to think about the depth of compost that you want to add. Deep layers will have a long-lasting effect and help to retain moisture in the ground, but it will be more expensive to create them than thin layers.
It’s a good idea to start by measuring the area that you wish to cover in compost, and then calculating how many inches you wish to add. You can then use an online calculator to estimate how many yards of compost you need to buy to cover that area.
It is often best to err on the side of too much, rather than too little. The chances are, if you end up with leftover, you’ll find another project to use it in soon enough, especially if you are a keen gardener.
How Much Does Compost Cost?
Prices can vary significantly, so it is a good idea to shop around a bit when you are trying to purchase compost. However, it is really important not to just go for the cheapest option without doing any further research.
The quality of compost is as variable as the price, and you may find that the cheap compost is not as rich and valuable as the more expensive stuff. Look at the company’s reputation and reviews and talk to other gardeners to guide your buying choice.
Buying in bulk is often cheaper, but if you buy compost from a standard commercial outlet, you should expect it to cost between $25 and $35 on average. You may find that you’re looking at a little more or a little less than that, depending on quite a few other factors, but that should give you a rough working estimate.
Use this to calculate the cost of your project with the above information, and only buy compost once you are ready – or you may find out that it’s too expensive and you can’t get enough to do whatever you wanted.
For example, if you wish to cover 10 feet x 10 feet in two inches of compost, you would need around 0.5 cubic yards of compost, or a little more. It’s a good idea to do this sum, with the cost factored in, before starting a project.
Why Do Compost Costs Vary?
You may have noticed that the cost of compost varies considerably from supplier to supplier, or in different parts of the country. If you’re wondering why this is, there could be several factors.
Firstly, delivery. If you are not collecting your compost yourself, you are likely to notice that the compost is more expensive, even if the company advertises “free” delivery. This cost has likely been factored into what they charge for compost, and therefore it will probably cost a little more than compost you buy from a local nursery or garden center.
Secondly, as already mentioned, the quality of the compost makes a big difference. If you buy high-quality compost with particularly good ingredients, it will cost more – but of course, it will also be better for your plants and you may find that you need less of it overall.
Buying compost that is cheap because it is made of poor ingredients and bulked out with rocks and sticks is a false economy that will be detrimental to your garden. Try and do some research into how the compost is made, what it contains, and how good it is for your garden before you buy it.
Compost that is made from food waste, as well as yard waste, is often better for your plants and contains more nutrients than compost that is just made up of scraps from the garden.
While cheap compost may be tempting, remember that you are buying it to improve your garden. If it isn’t good, it won’t do that very effectively! It’s best to try and buy good quality, even if you are working on a budget and need something economical.
Thirdly, you might observe that compost is more expensive in certain areas. As with anything, local availability will reduce the cost, so if compost needs to travel a long way to get to your area, it will cost more than if you have a local composting facility.
The miles it needs to be moved all add to the cost you can expect to pay, and also make it less eco-friendly (due to increased fuel use). If possible, try and find a source of local compost that hasn’t been shipped all over the country before reaching you. This will often be cheaper, and better for the planet!
How Can I Get Compost Cheaply?
Obviously, compost is not a particularly cheap commodity, and if you need to cover a large area, you might be wondering what you can do to reduce the costs you’re looking at. As mentioned, it’s not a good idea to just go for the cheapest brand without doing any research, but what can you do to keep the price low? Here are a couple of tips.
Buy In Bulk
Bulk buying is one of the best ways to cut the price down, but of course, this is only possible for some people. If you don’t have the space (or inclination) to store bulk compost yourself, consider talking to neighbors or others in your area about whether they would like to split the cost of bulk delivery.
You will need to think about storage and transporting the compost for each individual, as it may not come neatly bagged like the stuff from a garden center, but this is a great way to reduce the price, so it’s worth looking into if you’re on a budget.
Bulk compost can cost as little as $13 for a cubic yard, although it may be more if the ingredients are high quality or it has come a long way. The potential saving is worth having to handle the logistics of delivery and bagging for many people, but you need to consider the cons as well as the pros!
It is a good idea to calculate the actual cost per cubic yard and check it out compared with other local prices when you’re buying bulk compost. Although bulk is usually cheaper, that won’t always be the case.
Make Some Yourself
Making your own compost is a great way to get it for less (or even nothing!) and is more eco-friendly than transporting it from somewhere else. If you have a large garden, you may not be able to make enough to fulfill your needs, but everything you make will reduce the amount you need to buy.
Making your own compost is very easy and needs minimal equipment. Depending on your circumstances, you may even be able to build your own bin out of pallets. After that, all you need is food waste, garden waste, and a garden fork (or another tool) for turning it with.
Making compost isn’t zero work, but it doesn’t involve a massive time commitment to get some great, rich compost ready for your garden, totally for free.
People are often put off composting by how complicated it is made to seem, but in fact, it can be very straightforward. You simply have to balance greens (things like cut grass, food waste, and fresh leaves) with browns (things like eggshells, twigs and branches, and straw) and keep the pile moist but not soaked.
On the whole, if you do this, the compost will handle itself and produce some great, rich material for your garden!
So, compost usually goes up to about $50 for a cubic yard, although you may sometimes see it for a little more or less than that. On the whole, compost shouldn’t cost under $25; it is not a cheap material to buy, but it will make your garden rich and your plants happy.