Composting is an excellent way to recycle fallen leaves, veggie scraps, lawn clippings and other forms of organic waste back into your garden. Plus, it can be a great way to save money, while keeping your garden as healthy as possible.
Compost is basically a soil conditioner. It creates nutrient reserves for your plants to absorb at a convenient timing, and it helps the soil store water and air more efficiently while also helping with the draining process.
If you love the appearance of a lush, healthy lawn, but don’t enjoy the idea of spreading unwanted chemicals onto your lawn so that your family and pets may come into contact with them, consider feeding your lawn natural compost.
Topdressing your lawn using compost is arguably the best way to guarantee long-lasting, slow-release plant nutrients that promote healthy turf grass life. But you can’t just throw compost out by hand onto your yard or garden. That will take a long time, and the results may not be consistent with what you’re looking for.
So, how should you spread your compost? Can you spread compost with a spreader? If not, what other options do you have? Let’s find out.
Can you spread compost with a spreader?
Allow me to point out that ordinary drop spreaders usually handle small dry materials, including granulated fertilizer and seeds, so I wouldn’t recommend them to spread compost.
The openings of spreaders are too small to spread backyard compost. Also, because compost is usually damp and somewhat clumpy, they may clog the spreader, making the whole spreading process complicated.
There are two basic types of standard spreaders: broadcast spreaders and drop spreaders.
A broadcast spreader uses a rotating base plate to disperse granules or seeds that pour slowly from a hopper. They’re called broadcast spreaders because they expel its content many feet to the side and front of the spreader itself.
Drop spreaders drop a swath of drag materials through a narrow opening directly below the spreader. Because they are suitable for spreading small, dry materials, you can use a drop spreader to spread pelletized compost. If you have a precise area you want to cover, a drop spreader can prove a handy tool. You can easily regulate where a drop spreader distributes a product because it only drops between the wheels.
If you have dry and fine homemade compost at your disposal, you may use a drop spreader to spread them around your yard as well.
Personally, I would recommend you the Agri-Fab 45-0543 for functionality, but you can also find a more affordable and classic option in the Scotts 76565.
However, the downside of drop spreaders is that you’ll inevitably spend lots of your time preparing the compost, ensuring it’s dry and solid enough that it won’t block the spreader.
What methods can you employ to spread homemade compost on your lawn?
There are a few effective methods you can use to distribute your homemade compost on your lawn or garden.
Using compost spreaders
Don’t strain yourself trying to use a garden spreader to spread compost on your lawn!
There compost spreaders that help you achieve the same objective with minimal fuss.
Some compost spreaders are equipped with adjustable holes in the bottom and a unique mechanism on the handle that allows you to set the size of the openings.
You only need to set the compost spreader on the desired setting with the largest opening and close the lever that shuts the hopper holes. Fill the hopper with your compost and start the spreading process. Make sure you cover all the lawn and refill the hopper when needed.
There are various types of compost spreaders out there, so you’ll have to choose according to your needs and preference.
These are large wire cages that once you put compost inside them, you only have to roll them around and the compost will fall onto your lawn.
They are not only relatively affordable, but durable since many are made of steel.
Compost wheels are versatile devices that will work well with not only compost, but with many other fine topdressing materials, including peat moss. Their mesh grid envelops the unit, resulting in an even distribution of the compost.
Push compost spreader
Push compost spreaders are also a great option.
Although they might look similar to drop spreaders, they can handle relatively compacted materials, including compost. When fully loaded, these devices are extremely sturdy and balanced and work to deliver an even distribution of compost in your yard. If you have a bigger area to cover, self-propelled or tow-behind models can be an attractive option.
A manure spreader is another fantastic option thanks to its versatility. They are efficient and work quite well with wet compost.
While these machines can be costly, they are worthwhile investments for lawn lovers.
Compost spreaders not only reduce both the time and effort you spend spreading compost, but also allow you to apply compost far more evenly than doing it manually.
However, for someone that creates homemade compost, it might be a stretch.
Preparing compost tea
If you have a big lawn but don’t have enough compost, compost tea is a great way to ensure every corner of your lawn benefits from a portion of your homemade compost.
Also called “worm tea” (if made from worm castings), it turns regular compost into a liquid form. This makes it relatively easy to apply onto your lawn and also seems to multiply its nutritional value.
To prepare compost tea, you steep the compost in water, then include some food for the microbes. Give it a good stir, then leave it for a couple of days, stirring a few times over this period. As the microbes feed on the food, they’ll ultimately reproduce and multiply, eventually turning the water into a concentrated mix of beneficial bacteria and fungi.
Once the tea is ready for use, just fill your pump sprayer and spray the content all over your lawn. Because it’s in liquid form, the compost will quickly seep into the soil, providing your lawn with all the goodies compost provides.
Rent a compost blower
Commercial compost blowers offer a quick, hassle-free alternative to spreading compost by hand, among other methods.
Blower service is ideal for topdressing lawns, leaving your lawn with consistent coverage and depth. Most compost blowers are lightweight, so they won’t cause any form of damage to your lawn. Here’s an example of a blower service.
Use the shovel and rake technique
Though it might seem outdated, labor-intensive, and quite tiring, it can still be an effective and somewhat cheaper option, particularly if you have a small lawn.
You only need to fill your wheelbarrow with your homemade compost and shovel it in piles around your lawn. Using either a broom or a rake, gently spread the compost out, ensuring it covers the whole space.
I recommend using a landscape rake because it features a relatively wider head that allows you to cover a large area in a single pass. Rakes have robust tines, so they work the compost down into the turf, enhancing contact with the soil surface.
What’s the best time to spread compost on your lawn?
Lawn experts agree applying compost onto your lawn depends on the type of grass you have in your yard. If you have a warm-season grass, we recommended you topdress from late spring to early fall.
If you have a cool-season grass, the time to topdress would be during fall.
Just ensure you spread the compost a few weeks before extreme frost or heat sets in, as this will ensure the compost seeps deep into the soil.
Tips for spreading compost onto your soil
Regardless of the technique you’ll choose to spread your compost, there are a few general rules you’ll have to abide by, such as:
- Don’t apply compost onto your lawn during the sweltering summer heat because doing so risks burning your turf grass with the compost’s organic materials.
- Mow your lawn’s grass to an inch tall. This height ensures compost reaches the soil between grass blades.
- Rake the lawn using a powerful metal rake, so you can collect dead leaves, grass, and other unwanted lawn debris. This debris might prevent the finished compost from accessing the soil.
- Use a cubic yard of compost for every thousand square feet of lawn. This distribution offers an inch layer of manure to topdress your lawn. Also, the layer of compost you spread should be between 1/8- and ¼-inch in terms of thickness. Just make sure you don’t bury your grass, otherwise it will die.
Compost is the ultimate lawn fertilizer.
It has all the vital nutrients your grass requires and delivers them in a slow-release manner – which is what plants usually prefer.
Spreading compost onto your lawn is an excellent investment, as it becomes a permanent component of the structure of the soil, creating a neat balance for your plants to thrive in the long run.
While it’s not a good idea to spread compost in your garden using a drop spreader, there are other effective yet affordable options that can deliver effective results. Of course, the method you choose will depend on the size of your lawn, budget, and personal preference.