Should you dig compost into soil?

digging in garden with fork

QUESTION: Should you dig compost into soil?

ANSWER: The basic rule of thumb to determine whether you should dig your compost into the soil is that you should dig the compost into the top six to 12 inches of soil when you’re amending soil in a new area or to correct a shortcoming. If you’re adding compost to maintain an area that’s already had its soil amended, you do not need to dig the compost into the soil.

When you’re preparing a garden bed before placing your plants in the soil, you add compost by spreading the area where plants will grow with an inch or two of compost, then digging the compost six to 12 inches into the soil below. However, if your plants are already growing in an area where you want to add compost, you can add the compost as a side dressing by spreading it in the area of the plants, leaving a few inches of room between the compost and any plant. The space between compost and plants is required to prevent the microorganisms contained in the compost from causing problems for the plants.