How to Make Homemade Potting Soil


Make potting soil to incorporate compost into your garden. Homemade potting soil can also be a cost effective way to provide material for container gardening. Gardeners who do not have a compost pile can still get in on the action by purchasing a basic potting soil and improving the mixture with additional ingredients.

Step 1

Clean out bucket. It is important that your potting mix container is free of old dirt that may contain bugs or disease. Use soap and hot water to clean your container.

Step 2

Measure 1 gallon of compost into your small bucket. Dump the compost into the 5-gallon bucket. Compost may be made at home or purchased at most garden supply stores. If compost is not available, substitute store-bought potting soil.

Step 3

Measure 1 gallon of coarse sand and mix into the compost. Be sure to use sand from a garden supply store that is used for potting mixes, rather than playground sand. The sand will improve soil drainage.

Step 4

Measure one gallon of peat moss and mix into the compost and sand. Peat moss can be purchased anywhere that sells basic gardening staples.

Step 5

Sterilize your potting soil mix in a 250 degree oven. If you are planning to use your soil mixture for seed starting you should sterilize the soil in your oven to kill any soil-borne diseases or weed seed in the compost, according to Oregon State University Extension. Fill a heat-resistant baking pan or Dutch oven with your slightly moist soil mixture and cover with a lid or foil. Bake and check with a food thermometer. When the temperature of the soil has been at 180 degrees for at least a half hour, your potting soil is sterilized. Repeat until all your soil mix has been sterilized.

Tips and Warnings

  • This mix is heavier than peat moss or potting soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Hot Water
  • 5-gallon container
  • 1-gallon bucket
  • Compost
  • Coarse sand
  • Peat moss
  • Oven
  • Baking pan
  • Food thermometer


  • Oregon State University: Make Your Own Potting Soil
Keywords: best potting mix, cost effective soil, improve soil

About this Author

Leah Deitz has been writing alternative health and environmental-related articles for five years. She began her writing career at a small newspaper covering city politics but turned to environmental concerns after beginning her freelance career. When she is not exploring the trails and outdoors of the East Coast, Deitz writes for a number of websites including, and Associated Content.