Living Soil Vs Coco Coir

May 28, 2024

The big question...

Which one is best?

Coco coir and living soil are two very different mediums, they both have advantages and disadvantages but at the end of the day they are very different and need to be treated differently

Living Soil

Living soil is a biologically active growing medium rich in organic matter, beneficial microbes, and nutrients. It mimics 'natural outdoor' soil ecosystems and is designed to sustain plant growth through a water only approach. Nutrients are loaded into the soil in the form of things like Oyster shell meal, Colloidal soft rock phosphate, Fish bone meal, Wheat germ, Lucerne, Malted barley and other ingredients that eventually turn into the NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) that the plants need to survive.


Nutrient Availability: Living soil contains a diverse array of nutrients and beneficial microbes that help break down organic matter, making nutrients more available to plants over time.

Microbial Activity: The presence of microorganisms enhances nutrient uptake, improves soil structure, and helps protect plants from pathogens.

Sustainability: Great for people that are most concerned about sustainable gardening practices as it reduces the need for synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.

Water Retention: High concentration of organic matter improves water retention and reduces the frequency of watering.


Initial Setup: Establishing living soil can be labour-intensive and requires an initial investment in quality compost, amendments, and microbial inoculants.

Maintenance: It requires ongoing care to maintain microbial health and balance nutrient levels.


Ideal for organic gardening, permaculture, and growers who prioritise sustainability and natural growing methods. Plants grown in living soil often exhibit robust growth, deep root systems, and high resistance to diseases due to the rich, biodiverse environment. 

Medium Maintenance

Living soil is typically managed using organic and regenerative practices that aim to build soil health over time. This may involve regular additions of compost, cover cropping, mulching, and minimizing soil disturbance to maintain soil structure and microbial activity.

Coco Coir

Coco coir is a byproduct of coconut processing, the inside of the coconut is used for food, health and beauty products and the fibrous husk is the waste. The agricultural industry has found great value in this left over shell and has repurposed it as a soil-less growing medium which is ideal for hydroponics. 


Aeration and Drainage: Coco coir provides excellent aeration & drainage which leads to increased root and plant growth

Inert Media: The delivery of nutrients can be controlled by the user which can lead to increased growth rates through crop steering practices  

Reusable: Coco coir is high in lignin which helps to prevent it from decomposing, making it an ideal growing media for reuse. 

Sterile: It is naturally sterile, reducing the risk of soil-borne diseases.


Inert Medium: Coco coir itself lacks nutrients, so it requires regular fertilisation with a balanced nutrient solution.

Environmental Impact: Although coco coir is a renewable resource, its production and transportation (often from tropical regions) can have a higher environmental footprint compared to locally sourced soil or compost.


Ideal for hydroponic systems, container gardening, and situations where control over nutrient delivery and pH is crucial. Plants grown in coco coir typically benefit from rapid growth due to optimal aeration and root health. This is great when growing fast turn around crops such as 'annuals' 

Medium Maintenance

Coco coir requires no maintenance as it is an inert media. The user will dictate what nutrition the plants receive through the use of microbial inoculants and NPK fertilisers.


In summary, living soil and coco coir represent two different approaches in plant cultivation, living soil emphasises soil and microbial health, while coco coir provides a clean slate that requires you to control nutrient supplementation 

Both have their advantages ultimately you will need to decide which best suits your needs.



Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.