Peat Moss vs Compost

peat moss vs compost

Both Peat Moss and compost are natural elements. They are added to the soil as nutrient supplements by gardeners to reinforce the soil’s balance and physical structure. Peat Moss and compost help improve soil fertility and increase nutrient levels

Both of these have distinct properties and are used at times of specific needs, especially if the soil’s balance is disturbed. Growing the season favorable for each soil requires an appropriate amount of Peat Moss and compost to rejuvenate the physical structure. Commercially, compost is widely available.

Often gardeners prefer creating compost at their home instead of purchasing from a local store. 

Peat Moss vs Compost

No matter the requirement, it is always advisable to test the soil quality and understand what amount of peat moss or compost is required. Soil building and soil enhancement are two different tasks, and both are aimed to improve the quality of your soil. It’s best to test your soil by a local extension service beforehand.

Listed below are a few major differences between a Peat Moss and Compost.

  1. Compost is a cheap resource. It can either be purchased or readily made using kitchen and garden scrap. Compost does take time to decompose and get into a natural form suitable for soil enhancement.

On the contrary, peat moss is harvested, transformed into fine packaging, and imported into various countries. Peat moss has a uniform consistency and is composed of different kitchen scrap wood decay of plants matter, making it quite expensive.

  • Compost is generated from plant products. Sodium content in compost is relatively low. Different types of compost have different types of salinity levels. It all depends on the source of the compost. Peat moss, on the other hand, has a similar property.

It is low in salt content, and often, gardeners use peat moss to reduce the soil’s salinity level. On the contrary, compost has partly neutral or alkaline pH. The pH of peat moss is usually acidic. Ensure to mix peat moss with lime before adding it to the soil. 

  • The nutrient content in compost is rich and is filled with microorganisms. On the other hand, Peat Moss is not a fertile supplement but has plenty of microorganisms and nutrients to boost the quality of your soil.

Peat Moss has the quality of water retention. When drying out, Peat Moss easily flows away with the wind, which is not a property of compost.

Why Not Use Peat Moss?

Well, peat moss does have some serious advantages. However, it also has major disadvantages that do not make it an environmentally friendly product all the time. In addition to that, peat moss tends to be expensive.

The price highly depends on the manufacturer and is sold per cubic foot. The disadvantages of peat moss do not directly affect the environment, but peat moss is a non-renewable product. Peat moss creation takes thousands of years and several biological processes.

Harvesting of peat moss is highly regulated by the countries producing it. The process of producing peat moss is carbon-intensive; as such, its removal releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Peat Moss Alternative – Why Do You Need?

Peat moss is harvested from ancient bogs. Peat moss originally comes from the US and Canada. It takes centuries to develop and cannot be replaced easily. The environment pools a lot of benefit from peat moss.

In addition to soil fertility, peat moss helps purify water, prevent flooding, and absorbs carbon dioxide while being processed. However, once the peat moss is harvested, it releases harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This disturbs the unique ecosystem supporting various birds, insects, and plants.

As a peat moss alternative, you can use coconut coir, wooden material, and compost. 

  • Coconut coir, commonly known as coco peat, when harvested leaves long fibers, which are used in making rope, upholstery stuffing, and doormats. The coconut husk fiber is used as coco pits, a form of soil amendment in place of peat moss.
  • Wood materials such as sawdust, wood fiber are the perfect peat moss alternatives. They are the original production of plants. Wood materials have low pH, thus makes the soil acidic. Plants that are organically acid-loving, for example, rhododendrons, may benefit from woody materials. 
  • Compost, also known as black gold, improves drainage, adds to soil fertility, and attracts earthworms. There have been no major disadvantages of using compost as a substitute for peat moss so far.


Compost is a slightly better option than peat moss because of multiple reasons. The primary reason being its quality of being inexpensive. Compost is a decomposing organic matter that replenishes nutrients and fertilizes your soil.

Peat moss does have some similar qualities; however, its disadvantages overshadow its benefits. It’s best to have ample research done on your soil before adding peat moss to it. If you do decide to go the peat moss way, be sure to read our Peat Moss Spreader guide.