Using Compost as Mulch
Compost can be used to mulch annual and perennial plantings, shrubs and trees, and as a top dressing for lawns.
On flower and vegetable beds:
- Remove weeds and grass that may grow through mulch.
- Screen or pick through compost to remove large, woody materials. They may be unattractive and will compete for nitrogen if mixed into the soil.
- Apply 1 to 3 inches of compost over the entire bed, or place in rings around each plant that extend as far as its outermost leaves.
- Always keep mulches a few inches away from the base of the plant to prevent damage by pests and disease.
- Sift compost through a 1/2 inch or finer mesh.
- Spread compost in 1/4 to 1/2 inch layers after thatching, coring or reseeding.
On trees and shrubs:
- Remove sod from around trees and shrubs as far as branches spread. If this is impractical, remove sod from within a 4 inch diameter circle around plants.
- Use coarse compost or material left after sifting. Remove only the largest branches and rocks.
- Spread 1 to 3 inches of compost.
For erosion control:
- Spread coarse compost, or materials left after sifting, in layers 2 to 4 inches deep over entire planting area or in rings extending to the drip line.
- Mulch exposed slopes or erosion-prone areas with 2 to 4 inches of coarse compost.