Compost Use

Planting / Garden Bed Establishment with Compost

Plant growth benefits are typically substantial when using compost because existing soils around homes are typically of poor quality due to the practice of soil stripping before construction. The addition of compost improves the physical structure of the soil (adds organic matter, microbes, and vital nutrients), which in turn, promotes root development and heightens a plant’s resistance to stress.

  1. Evenly apply compost at 1 to 2 inch layer or 3 to 6 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet. Application rates will vary depending upon soil conditions and compost characteristics.
  2. Apply compost by hand or by using rakes or shovels.
  3. Incorporate the compost to a depth of 6 to 8 inches by hand, or using a rototiller, or other equipment until the compost is uniformly mixed.
  4. Establish a smooth planting bed by raking the soil surface.
  5. Plant transplants into the amended soil and firm them in place. Seeds should be applied and lightly introduced into the soil surface using a rake.
  6. Water to assure proper distribution of soil nutrients.

Compost as a Landscape Mulch

Compost can be used as a mulch for garden beds, tree and shrub planting. Yard trimmings are commonly used as mulches by landscape professionals. Aside from fulfilling the cultural or physical functions of a mulch, compost also has the ability to provide plant nutrients.

  1. Evenly apply compost at 1 to 3 inch layer, or 3 to 9 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet. Generally, most yard trimmings composts can be applied to a depth of 3 inches.
  2. Compost can be spread using a wheelbarrow and shovel. For small projects, the use of bagged compost may be more convenient.
  3. Carefully apply the compost around the base of trees and shrubs using a shovel or rake. Avoid placing mulch against the plant’s trunk or stem to avoid potential disease and insect damage.
  4. Smooth and further distribute compost with a rake or by hand to create a solid mulch layer.
  5. For singular trees and shrubs, mulch is typically applied near its trunk or stem to drip line. A berm may be formed around the tree trunk to help capture water.
  6. The mulch may be watered to help keep it in place.
  7. To improve weed control, landscape fabric or newspaper may be applied prior to the mulch application.