Uses of Compost

Soil Amendment

Compost improves soil health when mixed in the top 4-6 inches of soil. Adding compost will improve water and nutrient retention of sandy soils, as well as loosen compacted clay soils and make them more friable.

  • Work in no more than a two-inch layer of compost.
  • Be sure that compost is mature, has an earthy smell (no ammonia or rotten smell), and looks dark and crumbly with no recognizable feedstock.
Garden Example

Surface Mulch in Gardens & Landscape

Mulch provides protection from temperature extremes and slows moisture loss from soil. Mulch also provides some slow-release nutrients.

  • Use a maximum depth of three inches.
  • Start 3-4 inches away from a trunk.
  • Extend out to the dripline.

Lawn Topdressing

Compost, when used as lawn topdressing, retains moisture, supplies slow-release nutrients, and prevents soil compaction.

  • Be sure compost is very mature to avoid harming the lawn.
  • Use fine (screened) compost, raked over the lawn at a one-quarter inch depth.
  • It is best if the lawn is cored before applying compost.

Potting Mix

Compost must be very mature to avoid injury to plants when used as a potting mix.

  • Use fine textured compost.
  • Mix no more than one-third compost by volume.