Deciding How To Best Use Compost
Whether you buy or make your own compost, it is a very valuable landscape tool. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and does wonderful things for all plants. Consequently, the major problem with compost is that we never have enough of the stuff. We can buy it from the garden center or we can make it ourselves. To simply spread a thin 1/2 inch layer as a topdressing over an average lawn of 5000 square feet requires something over 150 bushels of compost. It would take four bins 4x4x4 in volume filled to the top with 320 bushels of organic materials to produce that 150 bushels of finished compost; if we had nothing better to do with our time. Most of us will never even want to be able to produce that much compost in a season even if we reduce our yard waste destined for municipal trash collection to close to zero. Furthermore, buying that kind of volume is just unreasonable for most yardener’s budgets.
At the same time we suggest that compost should go on your list as a tool to consider over time for certain situations in the home landscape. Deciding how to best use compost is in part a decision based on how much you have available to use or how much you are willing to buy. If there a just a few bushels then you want to make sure you get the best impact from that limited amount. For those who are lucky enough to have lots and lots of compost, prioritizing its use is not so necessary.
Compost builds soil, transforming poor or average soil into good soil. So the first priority for the limited supply of compost is likely to be an area where the soil quality needs the most attention. Is it the flower bed in the front of the house that everyone can see? Is it the vegetable garden because the size and quality of the harvest is most important? Is it the prized tree or shrub that cost $200 or that has special sentimental value? The first step is to decide where you want the soil to be superior. That is where you will use your compost.