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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Soils > Composting and mulching guide > Why compost?

Why compost?

Composting is an efficient way to break down organic materials into an end product that is beneficial to the soil and growing plants. Adding organic materials directly to the soil without first composting may initially have some undesirable effects. For example, if large quantities of noncomposted leaves are incorporated into the soil, microbes will compete with plant roots for soil nitrogen while the leaves decompose. This competition for nitrogen can result in nitrogen deficiency and poor plant growth. Adding mature composted material with a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of less than 20:1 reduces the competition for nitrogen. Another benefit of composted material is that it is much easier to handle and mix with soil than noncomposted material. Composted material will have fewer weed problems than noncomposted materials.

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