Five Ways to Use Compost in the Garden

Article written by Troy-Bilt® brand ambassador Noelle Johnson of AZ Plant Lady
Healthy soil equals thriving plants that add beauty to our homes, and compost is an invaluable tool in creating and maintaining an ideal environment for plants to grow in. Whether you make your own compost or buy it from your local nursery, let's look at five ways to use compost in the garden for beautiful, healthy plants.
First, let's look at how compost benefits the soil. Compost works as a slow-release fertilizer, providing major nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as micronutrients, which plants need to grow their best. It also improves the texture of clay and sandy soils by improving the water-holding capacity of sandy soil and breaking up compacted clay soil, helping them to drain better. Underground compost fosters a healthy community of beneficial microorganisms that are vital for plant growth. In short, compost is good for your garden, and there are many ways to use it.


1. Roses: When planting new roses, add 6 cups of compost to each hole and mix with the existing soil. After that, add a 2-inch layer of compost around each rose bush in spring, keeping the compost a few inches away from the base of the rose. This will help keep weeds at bay, moderate soil temperatures, while enriching the soil with a steady supply of nutrients. 
2. Houseplants: In spring and fall, add a 1/2-inch of compost around your houseplants and gently work it into the top couple of inches of soil, where it will help break up compacted soil and release a gentle supply of nitrogen that houseplants will appreciate. 
3. Lawn: Whether you are planting a new lawn from sod or seed, compost will help you in your quest for a beautiful and vigorous lawn. Before planting, add a 3-inch layer of compost over existing soil and rototill into the top 6 inches before planting seed or sod. Each summer, apply a 1/2-inch layer of compost over the lawn, which will reduce weeds, preserve soil moisture and add nutrients. 
4. Flower Beds: Before planting annual flowers, work in 3 inches of compost into the existing soil, to create an ideal environment for your colorful flowers to thrive throughout the season. Another bonus is that the compost will provide a steady stream of nutrients so you'll be able to use a little less supplemental fertilizer.
5. Vegetable Garden: Growing vegetables is fun and rewarding, but they do need fertile soil. Compost plays a major role in producing healthy and delicious produce from your garden. When creating a new vegetable bed, amend existing soil with 3 inches of compost along with 2 inches of cow (or chicken, horse, rabbit) manure and mix into the top foot of soil. After that, add 2 inches of compost and lightly work it into the soil before planting a new crop of vegetables. 
Extend the benefits of compost for all of your plants by making compost tea, which is simply a liquid form of compost. To make your own, fill a 5-gallon bucket one-third full of compost and add water until it reaches the top. Let it sit for four days, stirring occasionally. Pour the compost/water mixture through burlap into a new container, which will strain out the compost. Then take the brown liquid and dilute it with water at a ratio of 10 parts water to 1 part compost and use it to fertilize your roses, houseplants, flowers and vegetables.