How To Dispose of Old Potting Soil. (DO This Steps…)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

After the growing season is done, most gardeners often wonder what to do with last years’ potting mix.

Potting soil can be safely reused however there are cases when you have to get rid of the soil.

You can easily get rid of old potting soil by putting it in the trash or garbage.

However, there are other creative ways you can use the old soil around your lawn without having to get rid of it. 

This article will explain whether potting soil goes old, how to dispose of it, how to recharge potting soil, if it can be used for compost amongst other questions. 

Does Potting Soil Go Old?

How To Dispose of Old Potting Soil

Potting soil can go old.. Peat moss, one of the key ingredients, has a shelf life of around one to two years.

Using expired potting soil increases salt levels in the soil, reduces drainage, and depletes your houseplant’s oxygen supply.

Vermiculite, perlite, pine bark, and peat moss are all included in the potting mix. 

These substances are necessary for the growth and development of plants. They provide for soil aeration, and without them, the potted soil may get compacted.

Even when unused, these additives have a shelf life of one to two years.

Potting soil that is already in use can also go old with use. Certain plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, are heavy feeders and benefit from annual potting soil changes.

The previous potting soil gets old as they are heavy on the soil and it loses a lot of nutrients in the process. 

If your plants have been struggling to thrive or if the potting soil has become compacted and is losing its ability to retain moisture, the soil has gotten old.

If you’ve lost plants to root rot or other plant diseases, or if the plants have been infected by slugs or other pests, it is always best to replace the soil. 

Here is an article I wrote on how to fix waterlogged soil

How To Dispose Of Old Potting Soil

When your potting soil is old, gently remove your plant roots from the soil, dust them and rinse them. You can then mix new soil and replace the plant in the pot.

The old potting soil should be bagged and then put in the garbage. This is the easiest and most common way for you to dispose of old potting soil. 

You can also reuse the old potting soil around your lawn or garden. It can serve as filling for garden beds. You can also spread it thinly over your lawn.

This way, you are disposing of the potting soil but also getting some benefits from it. 

If you also have a large amount of old potting soil at hand, you can take it to a soil recycling facility for it to be revitalized.

However, for your soul to be accepted, it must not contain any harmful chemicals or pollutants. 

You can also decide to sell or give it away as potting soil is often in good demand.

It could be used in other settings including plant nurseries, landscaping companies and even landfills. 

How To Recharge Potting Soil?

It is natural that as you use your potting soil, it gets depleted and the nutrients which will help plants grow get reduced.

If your potting soil appears to be in good condition and your plants are doing well there is no need to replace your potting soil.

You can recharge or refresh the soil by substituting fresh, nutritious materials for a portion of the old potting mix.

Start off the refreshing process by scraping away the topmost layer of ‘crusty’ dirt, leaves, pine needles, or anything else that has accumulated in your pots. 

You can then use a cultivator to turn the dirt underneath the topsoil. .

If the soil level has fallen, add potting soil or garden mix to replenish the planter. Incorporate compost or fertilizer into the existing soil to provide vital nutrients.

Make certain that fertilizer, which can burn roots, is incorporated deeply enough that it does not come into contact with growing roots immediately.

You can as well soil additives such as perlite or peat moss. These nutrients are essential for soil growth and will help plants develop as they should.

Once you have refreshed your soil, you can then start growing your plants for the season.

Remember that you can refresh your potting soil at any time during the season, especially when you feel it is getting weak.

What Can You Do With Old Potting Soil?

When it comes to old potting soil, the obvious thing to do is to pack it up in a bag and throw it away.

However, there are ways you can make use of the potting soil to the maximum without having to throw it out. 

If the potting soil is not too old, you can actually rejuvenate it by adding nutrients and fertilizer to it.

However, if the soil is quite old, then you can use it around your yard. Your used potting soil does not have to be thrown away. 

It should be spread evenly over the soil in your flower beds or vegetable garden and lightly worked in with a spade or rake.

The old things will do no harm and may even increase the soil’s condition. You can as well spread it thinly over your lawn and let it work over time.

It could also work as a filling for newly built raised beds.

Using these methods, you are able to conserve the potting soil without letting it go to waste. 

Also check out this article I wrote on using potting soil to grow grass

Can Old Potting Soil Be Composted?

Yes, oil potting soil can be composted by  adding it to a compost pile.

This will guarantee that your compost pile has a good variety of elements to help it break down and generate a balanced compost.

Sheet composting is another excellent technique to repurpose unwanted potting soil. Layers of organic material are used to build a new planting bed on top of existing sod.

To begin, lay down some cardboard or newsprint, then cover it with your old potting soil, followed by several layers of organic matter such as shredded leaves, grass clippings, manure and straw. 

How Long Is Potting Soil Good For?

The usable life of potting soil is determined by whether it is actively in use.

Unused potting soil has a shelf life of around six months before degrading in quality, however used potting soil should be renewed every year or two.

The length of time potting soil also depends on the storage and the type of plant it is used for.

When not in use, the best way to keep potting soil is in a sealed jar away from sunlight sources and humidity levels.

To reduce bacterial growth in the soil, keep the storage container out of the rain and direct sunlight.

Also, some plants such as tomatoes are heavy feeders and as such the potting soil used for them might get old after one season.

This is because the plants take a lot from the soil and as such, the ingredients peter out over time. 

How Do You Know When Soil Is Bad?

Potting soil goes bad and it is important that you know the signs. Whether stored or in use, there are several factors that can cause your potting soil to become unusable.

Here are things to look out for to know whether your soil has gone bad:

  • A Bad Smell: The simplest way to tell if your soil is terrible is to smell it. When your soil has been dampened with water for an extended period of time, it often smells awful. 

Bacteria in water quickly degrades and emits a foul odor, indicating that the soil has gone bad.

  • Mold: Mold might form on your soil if it is very damp. This is common if your soil has been in a bag for an extended period of time, especially in hot weather.

Mycelium, for example, is a form of white mold that may grow in damp settings. You can kill off mold by exposing your soil to the sunlight and allowing it to dry out. 

  • Insects: Fungus gnats are another tell-tale indicator that anything is wrong with your potting mix. Fungus gnats prefer to reside in the ground. They can fit through even the smallest of openings in your potting mix bag. 

Although fungus gnats are not harmful to humans, they do deposit a great number of eggs in the soil, and their larvae may damage your plant roots.

Hard or compacted soil also indicates that your soil has gone bad and has little space for aeration. This means, plant roots can’t get oxygen and are unable to develop properly. 


When it comes to gardening and planting, potting soil is crucial, especially if you’re establishing a container garden or using raised beds.

Whether you’re growing plants indoors or outdoors, you’ll need high-quality potting soil to provide them the finest care possible.

It is easy to dispose of your old potting soil by dumping it out, however you can also put it to good use in your garden.

If the soil is also not too far gone, you can rejuvenate and use it for another planting season. 

Always check your potting soil to see if it has not gone bad. Ways you can discover this include; checking for mold, bad smell, insects or compacted so

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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