Both the terms compost and fertilizer are used in gardening. Some people prefer compost for their plants, while others prefer fertilizer to see quick results in their garden. However, both are different, and they differ in terms of the material and speed of results they offer.

As compost and fertilizers are made of different materials, the results come at different times. Although both are made to offer nutrients to plants for their growth, they vary in many aspects. Let us explore all the differences between compost and fertilizer and their uses in gardening.

Before looking at the differences, let us first understand compost and fertilizers in detail.


Compost is decomposed organic material. This can be food scraps, dead leaves, grass clippings, or any dead plant material. Biological and aerobic bacteria degrade this material and convert it into compost. Therefore, instead of being a pollutant, the compound has a new function to develop plant life. The idea of ​​dealing with “rotten matter” may seem strange, but rest assured, the compost is just healthy soil.


Fertilizers help your plants to grow faster. If a plant lacks in micro or macro nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, or phosphorus, adding fertilizer provides a fast, simple and easy solution to overcome such deficiencies. You can buy fertilizers for specific types of plants. If your plant needs specific nutrients immediately, quick-release fertilizers can make them available. If they need nutrients over a time period, slow-release fertilizers, such as grains, provide nutrition for an extended period.

Material of formation

Compost is made up of organic materials like dead plants, dry leaves, fruit, and vegetable waste. Compost is also made of inorganic materials in factories.


Fertilizers are also available in organic and inorganic forms. Inorganic fertilizers are made in factories, and they are rich in specific minerals like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Organic fertilizers are made of naturally occurring materials in nature. Inorganic fertilizers are made in factories using materials like natural gas and mined ores.

Purpose of Use

The purpose of use is also different for both compost and fertilizer. Compost adds nutrients to the soil from which the plants absorb them, while the fertilizer directly feeds the roots of plants. Compost improves the drainage and moisture-holding capacity of the soil. On the other hand, fertilizers are used to target the fulfillment of various minerals in the plants. In simple words, compost adds nutrients to the soil by the action of microorganisms, while fertilizers directly offer the required minerals to plants.

Difference in Cost

Compost is cheaper than fertilizer as it can be easily made at home. Many farmers and gardeners make their own compost using organic materials that are easily available in their homes or farms. But most forms of fertilizers cannot be made at home as they require conditions that are only possible in the factory. Therefore, the cost of fertilizers is more than compost as the processes involved in the manufacturing of fertilizers are expensive.

Plants and Crop Requirements

Fertilizers are better than compost in fulfilling specific plant requirements. For example, if your soil is deficient in nitrogen, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer can quickly make it available for the plants. On the other hand, compost offers nitrogen as well as other minerals with the action of microorganisms which takes time.

In the case of compost, the required minerals or nutrients may take several days or weeks to become available to plants. Fertilizer makes the required minerals available for crops from the first day of its application. Only you need to use the right fertilizer according to your soil and plant requirements.

Some Disadvantages

As compost is made of different materials, the moisture can lead to the development of various types of funguses that can rot the roots of plants. Also, the decomposition of materials produces a lot of heat that can make the soil too dry in summers.

Fertilizers take different times to break down, and an over-application can burn the roots of plants if the previous application is not consumed completely. The abundance of various minerals can cause the poor growth of plants and flowers.

Mazzega’s Landscaping Supplies offers all types of materials and fertilizers for landscaping in Perth, Western Australia. Their product range includes garden soils, garden edging, sand, gravel, ferricrete mulch, bark, and compost in Perth. They also have an online shop where you can order online and get the landscaping products delivered to your home.

Final Words

The differences between compost and fertilizer can help you understand which is better for your landscape. It is best to get your soil inspected by a landscaping professional so that you can choose between compost and fertilizer. Getting help from professionals enables to know your soil and plant requirements and use the right product to get the best results for your plants or crops.