Is shop-bought compost classed as mulch?

Hi everyone,

So sorry for sounding like a complete novice... We're new gardeners and we're now fighting with weeds and have read that mulch is great for surprising weeds. 

We're not massive fans of the look of bark chips, and have read that compost is also a good form of mulch - does this include the shop-bought (e.g. John Innes) types?

Another issue we have is that our border is mixed with a few azaleas which are in a line across the border - if I use compost I will need to use a different type around these - is there a certain way or distance that I should put the different compost around the azaleas as I don't want to kill them with the limey compost! Or can the other plants have the special compost too?

Thanks in advance!


  • JennyMcJennyMc Posts: 12

    Surprising! Meant suppressing image

  • sunnylousunnylou Posts: 47

    Hi JennyMc - yes Azaleas do tend to prefer more acid based soil, but generally unless your soil is very alkaline, they are fairly tolerant, you do not say how mature they are, but if they are of a reasonable age and have survived so far - so good.  I would not really say that shop bought compost is a mulch, Edd's suggestion is great if you can find some.  You can buy ericacious feed in liquid or granular form to give them boost.

    As to the weeding, no quick fix I'm afraid, unless you have very invasive or difficult weeds, but that's a whole new topic !


  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Hi Jenny, most flowering plants wont mind a more acidic compost, im going by the ones in my garden who have to like it or lump it! you will need to use an acidic compost for azelias etc, i use this as a mulch, it works fine, but is an expensive way of doing it. Jus make sure you dont go all the way up to the stems of the plants as they dont like it, and give everything a good soak before you mulch image

    To suppress weeds, any mulch has to be a good few inches deep image
  • A mulch is any material to conserve moisture, add nutrients, make it look prettier or supress weed growth.

    So compost is a mulch.   But compost won't surpress weed growth.  Indeed the weeds will love it image

    Bark is kind of o.k. for suppressing weeds but I personally prefer planting something that will spread and give great ground cover.   So I plant out to swamp weeds out as much as is possible.

    I've a rhododendron and azalea garden and I've planted blue vinca, perwinkle, phlox subulata to give ground cover and stop weeds.    I've also planted Galega Orientalis to grow through and to give flower interest and colour after they've finished.

    I don't believe any mulch really prevents weeds or even reduces them a great deal.  I've tried a mass of bark and leaf mold and eventually the blighters still come through.   The only thing I've found anything like successful is after you've dug a bed and BEFORE you do any planting use a proper permeable membrane and then plant through that.   That's effective but expensive and is really only useful when you're starting a new patch of garden.

    I use well rotted down horse manure as a mulch in that area and to provide nutrients and to keep the soil ph acid.  


  • JennyMcJennyMc Posts: 12
    Thanks for all your responses folks - really appreciate it! Going to opt for the prettier option of getting ground cover plants!
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