Using Compost as Mulch

MulchCompost 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.

On lawns:

  • 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.