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  • What is compost?
    Compost is an organic material that is added to soil to help plants grow. It is often made of organic materials, like food and yard waste, and so returns the nutrients that they had back to the soil. There are a variety of “composts” in the market, especially as gardeners are more aware of how important it is for soils and plant health. We have created a Compost Buying Guide to help you learn how to buy a quality compost that is right for your needs.
  • Should I use compost or topsoil? (Compost vs. topsoil)
    If you are looking to increase the absolute level of your garden, you generally should use a topsoil. If you are happy with the level of your garden / lawn but need it to be healthier, then you should use compost. Topsoil is just as it sounds: the top layer of the earth. It provides the structure for your plants’ roots (to give them support) as well as the nutrients that your plants need to grow. Compost is decomposed matter and contains microscopic life that helps keep your soil healthy in the near and longer-term. We have created two buying guides—one for topsoil, another for compost—to help you find a quality product. Our compost is made using only the safest and highest quality ingredients—food and yard waste—and our topsoil is a mixture of a local premium soil and our certified compost.
  • Is all compost the same?
    No, there are a wide variety of composts available for sale. Especially as compost has gained a lot of traction, it can be hard to tell if what you're buying is compost, let along a high-quality compost. We have created a compost buying guide to help you choose which compost is best for you. There are perhaps two big differences in our local area to keep in mind. First, compost can contain a variety of feedstocks—yard debris, food scraps, manure, and human waste, for example—as well as “nutritional” additives. These inputs aren’t always readily disclosed, so ask about specific inputs and make sure you are comfortable with them. Second, compost is a biological process and there are a lot of "composts" that don't give allow the material to compost for enough time. When made incorrectly, compost can harm soil quality and plant growth.
  • How do I use compost?
    There are two main ways to use compost. First, you can put it on top of your garden or lawn (topdressing) and allow it to work down into the soil naturally over time. Second, you can work it in to your existing soil so a more immediate impact through tilling the soil. We have more information about how to add our Grow Good Compost to your garden and lawn on our Compost page.
  • When should I apply compost?
    Anytime! Generally, it’s best to apply it either in the fall when putting your garden or lawn to bed for the winter, or in the spring when preparing your garden.
  • What is composting?
    Composting is a natural process that breaks down organic materials, like food scraps, leaves, and grass. In nature, when things die (like leaves falling from trees), they decompose over time and become part of the soil. We help speed up this natural process using technology—instead of it typically taking 9-12 months, we do it in roughly 60 days. You can learn more about how we compost food and yard waste on our about us page.
  • Why should I compost?
    Composting is a leading way to help address climate change. By composting food and yard waste, we can boost soil health and plant growth, improve air quality, and minimize water use and pollution into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Is composting good for the environment?
    Yes! Composting and using finished compost may be one of the best ways for individuals to help the climate. Improve air quality. Food and yard waste that are put in a landfill release methane, a greenhouse gas up to 84 times worse than CO2. Plus, when there’s compost in our gardens, it can help store carbon dioxide that plants pull from the air and put into the soil. Reduce trash costs / save landfill space: Landfills are filling up and this leads to longer trash transportation distances (and the resulting CO2 emissions!) and higher trash dumping fees. Local estimates from Northern Virginia are that food and yard waste account for 30-40% of the material currently going into our local landfills and incinerators. Improve soil health: Instead of sending organics to the landfill to make methane gas, composting them recycles their nutrients back into the earth. Compost provides soil with organic matter, structural support, and microorganisms that produce immediate and long-term soil health. Save water. Because compost can hold 20 times its weight in water, you don’t have to water as much or as frequently. Plus, compost improves water quality by retaining and/or breaking down pollutants, live heavy metals, gas, and oils.
  • What can I compost?
    "If it grows, it goes!" We are able to process any food or yard waste, including meats and dairies. We also have an easy-to-use poster as a reference on our recycling page.
  • What do you use to make your compost?
    We use only the best and safest ingredients--food and yard waste. We do not use any manure, human waste (biosoilds), or fertilizers in our compost.
  • Can I drop off food scraps for composting at your facility?
    Yes! We are a regional resource for the broader DMV area and everyone is able to use our facility. If you’re a Prince William County (PWC) resident, you are able to drop off organic materials for free. For non-PWC individuals, it often costs just $1-2 dollars to drop off a 5-gallon bucket of food scraps.
  • Is there a difference between composting and compost?
    Not really. Sometimes industry professionals refer to “composting” as the act of breaking down organic materials and compost as the finished product, but they are closely related and this distinction can be hard to use in practice.
  • How is compost made?
    Compost is made by breaking down organic materials. When composting at home, there are a variety of ways to do this, including hot composting, cold composting, vermicomposting, and Bokashi composting. At our industrial Balls Ford Road Composting Facility, we use a form of hot composting called Aerated Static Pile (ASP). This means that we have large piles of material that we add air to so that the organic materials break down quickly. We have a virtual tour on our About page.
  • What is in compost?
    Compost can contain a variety of feedstocks or ingredients—yard debris, food scraps, manure, and human waste, for example—as well as “nutritional” additives. These inputs aren’t always readily disclosed, so ask about specific inputs and make sure you are comfortable with them. Our Grow Good Compost is made from food and yard waste; we do not use manure, human waste, or fertilizers.
  • Is compost good for grass?
    Compost is great for existing and new lawns. A good compost contains the macro (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) and micro nutrients that feed lawns over time. And, because a good compost will have microbes in it, it will help to break down thatch (the dead grass that builds up on top of the soil).
  • Is compost good for plants?
    Compost is great for helping grow healthy and resilient plants. It helps improve your soil’s near and long-term health so that plants can thrive.
  • Do I need to be home when delivery is made?
    No. Most deliveries are made to customers that are not home. We will deliver and place your product in the driveway. If you have specific instructions or placement locations, please let us know so that we can do our best to accommodate them. Please make sure that the drop site is cleared of any obstructions (cars, bicycles, toys, etc.) before the driver arrives. Depending on how much material you ordered, the driver may need up to 15 feet to deliver the product.
  • Where does the material need to be placed?
    We are able to place the material on or just off of a hard surface. The truck is heavy and meant to stay on paved, gravel, or hard dirt roadways. With sufficient space, the truck can back up so that its rear wheels edge up to softer ground (e.g. a lawn) and then start to tip the material. Larger loads may require the truck to pull forward during drop-off.
  • Do you guarantee a specific time for delivery?
    No. However, we do try to find a mutually convenient day for delivery, our team and service providers are trained to call when departing our facility and as they arrive at the stated delivery address.
  • Can I pickup my bulk materials instead of having them delivered?
    Absolutely! If buying online, you are able to select delivery or the pick-up location during the check-out process. Additionally, you’re welcome to swing by either of our sites during working hours to pick up material.
  • Should I use compost or topsoil? (Compost vs topsoil)
    If you are looking to increase the absolute level of your garden, you generally should use a topsoil. If you are happy with the level of your garden / lawn but need it to be healthier, then you should use compost. Topsoil is just as it sounds: the top layer of the earth. It provides the structure for your plants’ roots (to give them support) as well as the nutrients that your plants need to grow. Compost is decomposed matter and contains microscopic life that helps keep your soil healthy in the near and longer-term. We have created two buying guides—one for topsoil, another for compost—to help you find a quality product. Our compost is made using only the safest and highest quality ingredients—food and yard waste—and our topsoil is a mixture of a local premium soil and our certified compost.
  • What are the different types of dirt and soil? What are they used for?
    There are four types of dirt that you may come across. Working from the lowest layer in the earth and towards the top: Fill Dirt: a low-quality, unscreened dirt that helps support the weight all of everything above it. It will likely have larger stones in it to help support the weight. Screened Dirt: a low-quality dirt with the larger rocks and debris screened out. Blended or Mixed Soil: Created most often by mixing compost with a fill or screened dirt to make it a higher quality, hopefully good enough for growing. Topsoil: While there are a variety of soil types—sandy, clay, silt, peat, chalk, and loam—all are focused on being high enough quality for growing. This should be the top 6-12 inches of your soil.
  • Is all topsoil the same?
    No. Unfortunately, our local area has a number of products that are of low quality that are sold as a “topsoil.” Soil is composed of minerals, water, gas, organic matter, and microorganisms. Minerals are the largest part of a soil’s composition at ~45-50% of the volume, and are broken into three main texture (mineral) classifications: sand, silt, and clay. The best type of topsoil is considered a “loamy” texture (or just “loam”) because it is a blend of sand, silt, and clay in proportions that balance each of their relative strengths and weaknesses. Our buying guide can help you find a high-quality topsoil. To make our premium topsoil, we start with a locally sourced loamy soil and blend it with our certified compost to ensure it has the right levels of organic matter and microorganisms. When you add water and gasses (captured from growing plants), you’ll have the right starting soil for your plants to thrive in the near- and long-term.
  • How do you make your mulch?
    We grind natural yard debris and then cured it to kill any weed seeds and make it healthy for use on your garden. Our natural mulches do not use any dyes or contain any construction debris--it's just natural wood, expertly processed, and returned to nature.
  • How do I install dyed mulch?
    We recommend giving the dyed mulch 24-48 hours of drying time once placed in your garden before watering or heavy rainfall. This helps prevent mulch discoloration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Compost for sale

Browse our landscaping products: compost, topsoil, and mulch.

Food waste for composting

Learn about composting food and yard waste at Freestate Farms.

Compostable items ->

Hands putting plants in soil

Want to talk about using compost, topsoil, or mulch?

Proud member of:
Prince William Chamber of Commerce logo
US Composting Council Member
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