Saturday, February 15, 2014

Where to Use Compost in The Landscape

Previously, I explained how to make compost.  In that article I highlighted why compost is so good for the soil by feeding the microbes, improving the soil structure, and allowing moisture to move through the soil. So now I would like to show the many way to incorporate compost into the landscape.

Three yards of compost from landscape supplier

Add compost to a new garden bed.  The spring is a great time to add some gardening space to the landscape.  Many cool, rainy days will aid in the process.  Removing turf is the hardest part. Using a flat head spade will skim the sod from the soil. 

Test the shape and size of a new bed 
Several steps to visualize the new space in the landscape.  What will it be used for, and how is the plan moving forward to a landscape that is usable.  Creating the bed once size and shape are determined is next.

Using landscape paint, this homeowner outlined the desired garden bed.  This will give a visual of size and shape.  This exercise using paint or even a garden hose to outline an area can easily be changed.  The cutout is harder to change if it does not look acceptable. 

Create new garden

Add compost as a planting base for new garden
This raised bed will be a great vegetable garden and there are uses for compost here as well. 

Another way to build a garden bed on sod or other planted area, is to lay down cardboard or newsprint on top of the grass.  This layer needs to be thick - about 6-8 sheets of newspaper will successfully suffocate weeds and grass.  I have done this several places in my garden.  The digging is eliminated, and rolling up sod is unnecessary.

Use newspapers smother grass

Skip scraping sod to make new bed

At this time, I cover the paper with a 4" - 6" layer of compost.  The paper will decompose, and the area can be planted in as little as eight weeks.  The compost enhances the planting area, and plants will take off well.

Top dress planting bed with compost

Add compost to planting holes when installing new perennials, shrubs, and trees.  The nutrients will be available to the roots slowly and steadily.  And the compost will allow water and oxygen to move freely at the roots. 

Amend soil with compost
Add compost to planting hole

Rake Compost through grass for rejuvenation of a lawn

  Compost raked into an established lawn can rejuvenate a tired area. Compost can help break up compacted soil, and allows water to be better absorbed.  The nutrition that compost offers is secondary only to the benefits it gives the soil and the microbes that are in it.

Compost is an additive I like to add to containers.  Potting soil can be supplemented with compost - or mixed with peat moss and perlite to make a homemade potting soil more economically.

Perlite particles in a soil mix allows air spaces to form where oxygen and water have free movement.


Peat moss

Compost added to container as growing mix.

Whether making home compost or purchasing compost from a landscape supplier, compost is one of the best soil amendments.  By building the soil with compost, a new garden bed, or the lawn, or the containers sitting on patio will benefit from the organic material.

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