What Can I Use Compost For?

Question: I’m starting a compost bin this season. What can I use compost for? How about grass? Should I spread compost on my lawn? -Randy T.

Answer: The most common use for compost is as a soil additive in the garden or for container plants. Adding compost to your planting medium makes the soil richer by boosting the nutrient levels and also improves the texture to help the soil retain water. When you are preparing a garden bed before the season begins, you can spread one or two inches of compost over the surface of the soil. Then mix the compost with the soil below to a depth of six to 12 inches. If your plants are already growing in an area where you want to add compost, you can use the side dressing technique instead. To side dress an area, spread the compost over the ground, but leave a few inches of room around any plants that are growing there. You need to leave this space between the plants and the compost to prevent problems from arising in the plants as a result of the microorganisms in the compost. The best time to do side dressing is in late spring or early summer, when plants are growing strong and can use the nutrients right away.

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