Soil Problems Solved by Adding Compost

Brie Arthur
Brie Arthur is a Soil³ team member and author of "The Foodscape Revolution" and "Gardening With Grains." With a background in ornamental plant production, Brie is revolutionizing the backyard gardening movement by her work across the US and the globe promoting sustainability and community gardening in urban Foodscapes. Brie's website:
January 26, 2024 4 minute read

Here in the Southeast cultivating a garden can be difficult because our ground is not always ideal for growing. Do you find yourself facing daunting challenges of soil problems and “bad dirt?”

If so, worry not, for there's a gardening solution that can transform your clay or sandy ground into a vibrant, thriving oasis. Enter compost, a game-changer that addresses a multitude of soil problems because it's organic matter that actually enriches soil in a variety of ways, unlike peat moss.

If you're interested in learning more about why I don't like peat moss, read my article The Difference Between Peat Moss and Compost.

Compost is like a "magic bullet" that goes beyond addressing specific nutrient deficiencies. It fosters a holistic and sustainable approach to soil management, creating an environment where plants can thrive while minimizing the need for inputs.

Your Ground is Depleted

One prevalent woe that often plagues gardeners is the gradual depletion of nutrients in the soil. As plants grow, they naturally extract essential nutrients from the earth, leaving the soil bereft of its inherent fertility. This is where compost steps in as nature's remedy. Packed with a mix of nutrients, compost replenishes bad dirt, ensuring a continuous supply of essential elements. The result? Healthier, more robust plant growth that can withstand the challenges of the growing season.

Did you know that by adding compost you are making more nutrients available to your plants? In addition to addressing nutrient deficiencies, compost enhances the availability of nutrients in the soil. It acts as a slow-release fertilizer, providing a sustained supply of essential elements for plant growth.

Adding compost to soil is like giving your garden a magical boost, and it is the easiest way to promote overall health.

Here are 9 additional soil problems that compost can solve:

1) pH Regulation

Compost acts as a natural buffer, helping to balance soil pH levels. This is crucial because certain plants thrive in specific pH ranges, and compost helps create a more stable environment for them by either raising the pH or lowering it.

2) Compost Adds Beneficial Microorganisms

Compost contains beneficial microorganisms that can help suppress certain soil-borne diseases. These microorganisms create an environment that is less hospitable to harmful pathogens. 

Plus, the more diverse the microorganism population, the healthier the soil is, therefore the healthier your plants are.

mycorrhizae on radish

The fuzzy white growth on these radish roots is actually a good thing. It's mycorrhizae and a sign of healthy growth. This mycorrhizal relationship extends the reach of the radish roots, supplying more water and nutrients to the radish. Research and photo by Nestor Vela.

3) Promotion of Beneficial Insects

Compost attracts a variety of beneficial insects that contribute to natural pest control. These insects prey on harmful pests, helping to maintain a balanced ecosystem in your garden.

Healthy, robust pollinator plants naturally grow stronger and flower more, attracting more pollinators to your garden. Yet another outcome of enriching your soil so you enrich your plants.

gulf fritillary butterfly on potato Nestor Vela

A gulf fritillary butterfly feeding on nectar from watermelon plant flowers. Photo by Nestor Vela at his research nursery.

4) Weed Suppression

A well-amended soil with compost can create a healthier environment for your desired plants, so they grow bigger making it more challenging for weeds to establish and thrive because they are shaded or crowded out.

weedless under the hood

"Under the hood" this Soil³ Veggie Mix bed is so crowded with robust veggie plants that there is literally no room for weeds to grow. Garden and photo by Nestor Vela.

5) Promotion of Root Health

The improved soil structure and nutrient availability created by compost contribute to healthier root systems. This, in turn, leads to stronger and more resilient plants.

native soil vs compost Nestor

Root quality and quantity is increased in rich Soil³ compost compared (right) to Georgia clay soil (left). Research and photo by Nestor Vela.

6) Carbon Sequestration

Composting organic matter helps sequester carbon in the soil, contributing to carbon storage and mitigating the impact of climate change.

7) Erosion Control

Compost helps bind soil particles together, reducing the risk of erosion. This is particularly beneficial on slopes or in areas where heavy rain can wash away valuable topsoil.

sod and erosion control-3-1This clay would have held together better in torrential rain if it had compost (and plant roots!) in it to hold it together. Photo by Hillary Thompson.

8) Improved Soil Structure - Compacted Soils

Poor soil structure, especially in areas affected by heavy construction equipment, can be a significant hurdle for gardeners in the south. Compacted soil restricts root expansion, hindering plants from accessing the water and nutrients they need. This is where compost truly shines as a soil conditioner to Fix the Landscape Around Your Newly Constructed Home.

soil3 compost vs native soil Zeon Zoysia

A test using Zeon Zoysia sod to compare growth in soil amended with Soil³ compost (left) vs non-amended Georgia clay (right). Can you see all those roots in the compost compared to very few in the clay? Research and photo by Nestor Vela.

9) Additional Improvements in Soil Structure

Compost contributes to the overall improvement of soil structure. It enhances aggregation, making the soil crumbly and easy to work with. The addition of compost also helps the soil retain moisture, while not causing water logging. This is beneficial during dry periods, as it ensures a steady water supply for your plants. It is also easier to keep moist with regular watering, especially through the dry, hot summer seasons.

natives in Soil3 compost

These pollinator plants are in a 500 square foot area where 1 cubic yard of Soil³ compost was added. In all the droughts we've had in the last 6 years, I have never had to get out the sprinkler to water this enriched bed. Also of note is that this bed is so crowded with plants that there is literally no room for weeds to grow (sometimes there is a stray water oak seedling thanks to the squirrels). Garden and photo by Hillary Thompson.

Your Ground can be Healed with Compost

front yard flower garden Soil3 Jonathan Shives

"This is my flower garden in full bloom with Soil3!"
Photo by Jonathan Shives, Sales at Super-Sod of Raleigh, NC.

By enhancing the soil structure and promoting aeration the addition of Soil³ compost becomes the key to unlocking the potential of your garden. Improved water infiltration, reduced erosion, and a welcoming environment for root exploration are just a few of the benefits.

It's important to note that composting isn't a one-time fix. Make adding Soil³ a yearly ritual, ensuring that your garden continues to thrive season after season.


Now, picture this: a garden where nutrient deficiencies are a thing of the past, where soil structure is optimized for plant growth, and where every inch is teeming with life. This is the transformation that Soil³ compost brings to the table.

If you are looking to elevate your gardening experience and overcome common challenges, Soil³ compost is your go-to solution. Embrace the annual ritual of incorporating this quality product into your beds and watch your plants flourish like never before. After all, a garden nurtured with Soil³ compost is a garden that thrives.

Happy gardening!


All photos by Brie Arthur unless otherwise noted.

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