Give Your Lawn a Compost Shot

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My adventures of creating a lush organic lawn are like a book with many chapters. Each year, I create several new chapters with my disasters and triumphs. The first chapter was entitled, “The Beginning,” when we tried to seed the lawn after finishing the construction of the house and the soil we used look more like compost than top soil.

 

 

 

The next chapter was called the corn gluten year when we stared down the crab grass and it laughed at us since we applied it too late, (See my articles, “Corn Gluten–Can Animal Food K’O Crabgrass?” and updated post this year, “Corn Gluten: Extremely Crabby About Crabgrass.”). The preceding chapter of last year was “The Trees,” when we planted many trees so I could reduce the size and amount of watering the lawn would need. In the meantime, until the trees grow, the lawn is still looking pretty ratty and neglected.

 

This year, I promised my kids that we would work on the lawn, since according to them, the lawn was just too full of pot holes and dirt to be considered a lawn. I can’t argue with them about that.

 

 

 

My lawn needed a compost vitamin, and I ordered 20 yards of compost from my county to spread all over its tattered mane. You are probably asking why compost versus waiting to fertilizer?

 

 

 

According to the University of Florida IFAS extension,

“Applying organic matter such as compost to the soil will supply simple and complex sugars, proteins, and amino acids. This will provide a nutrient source for both the turf and the microbial population, will improve nutrient uptake through greater cation exchange capacity, and will reduce leaching. Compost may be added to the soil prior to planting or may be topdressed over existing lawns. If topdressing, it may be necessary to screen out some of the larger material before applying. Apply approximately ½ to 1 inch of material.”

compost_spreader_large
Our Lawns and bodies are similar in that a healthier body or lawn can utilize the nutrients it is given better than one suffering from many ailments.  Compost makes the lawn stronger.

 

So, you are thinking how am I going to spread this big mound of compost? Well, if you are in my situation, you can do one of two things. I could buy a compost wheel from GreenCulture Composters (see picture to the right) or spread it out with a shovel and rake into your grass. (See Weekend Gardener web magazine’s article, “How to Compost Your Lawn,” for an illustration of using the shovel and rake method.)
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We opted to buy a compost wheel to spread the compost. When it arrived I noticed the printed title on the box, which read “Organic compost spreader” as opposed to just “compost spreader.” Is there compost that is not organic so you can’t use this spreader? I just thought this title on the box was funny.

The first time, I tried it with a full wheel of compost, I could barely move it. My husband said I was just weak. Mind you, I am not a big person but that wheel is hard to move until you empty half of it.

 
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Pictured above is my husband effortlessly rolling the wheel over an area of the lawn.

 

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Here is the compost left on the ground.

 

After we are done, we will give the lawn a good watering and start patching the holes in the lawn with seed.

I will keep you updated on how the lawn looks during the summer!

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Comments

  1. 2

    RYD says

    Hey – I love your site and just linked my blog to yours. I also just wrote a post about recycling toys/bikes. Keep up the great work – I may just devote a post to your site soon, too!

    RYD

    RYD’s last blog post..Recycle The Bicycle

  2. 4

    Green Talk says

    RYD, thanks for the vote of confidence. I read your last post entitled “Reycle The Bicycle.” I agree with your comments in this post. Why buy new when there is so many great gently used items around. Garage sales are so much fun to find these items. Readers, check out RYD’s blog, A Reluctant Mom, which as is a humorous account of raising 2 willful daughters and as RYD states “this blog is for moms who know there is more to life than Dora the Explorer.” Anna

  3. 7

    Compost Guy says

    Great post!
    I’ve actually been wondering about this myself recently. It’s nice to know that there is a fairly low-tech option out there for spreading compost (I’ve previously heard about using much more expensive machines for this task). I almost wonder if one could create a homemade version of this roller – using a plastic barrel perhaps (with holes drilled in it)?

    B

    Compost Guy’s last blog post..Worm Composting Basics

  4. 10

    Michael says

    Hi. I have been searching for a few weeks now on compost spreaders. I was excited to see you (I believe who this is going to when I say you) had the Green Culture Compost Spreader. This is the one I have been considering but can not find a review anywhere. When I called a place that sells them they said people are happy and no return policy :( Anyway, I am getting very depressed w/ the way my lawn is looking. I am on heavy clay soil and my neighbors for what ever reason seem to have much better luck. From my research I have turned to mushroom compost for the many benefits it provides. I have about 8000 sq. feet of lawn to cover and really hope that the Green Culture works like it states. Can you please give me feedback on it and if it is worth it? The shovel/rake method is out of the question. I already tried :)

    Thanks a ton in advance for any light you may be able to shed!

  5. 11

    Green Talk says

    I found the spreader to be time consuming since it is not a large bin. It was hard for me to do it since compost is heavy but my husband could do it no problem. We ended up going to the rake and shovel since we had a lot of sq feet to do. Mushroom compost might be lighter.

    Also, be careful opening and closing it . Don’t try and force it because it can bend easily. I actually was sent a “compost” spreader that looks
    like a seed speader which seems to have more capacity. See
    http://www.earthandturf.com/tf24d.htm. Anna

  6. 12

    Green Talk says

    Thanks for the reply back! I have roughly 8000 sq. feet that I would need covered. I am surprised that the rake and toss method is easier then the compost spreader. That says something there in my opinion!

    You are more than welcome to post my question on your site. One last question, did the compost help your yard, or is it too soon to tell?

  7. 13

    Sheila @ crankstart.com says

    This compost wheel is a great way of making composting easy. My Dad was always big on composting and their garden was bountiful. The tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, and cucumbers produced from their compost rich garden were absolutely the best.

  8. 14

    Tom M. says

    I love talking green with sub zero weather outside my door. I’ve never seen a compost spreader like that before. It’s a great idea. We started composting a couple of years ago and my wife has used some in her vegetable and flower gardens but I never thought of using it on the lawn. Thanks.
    .-= Tom M.´s last blog ..Do Follow Blog, Comment Luv Keyword Luv =-.

  9. 15

    Karen@Composting Bin says

    Your adventures with having a nice lawn sound like mine. I even bought a book on growing a healthy lawn. I don’t know, I can grow plants but lawns just seem to end up with dandelions and crab grass. Anyway I had no idea they had a compost spreader like that – I want to know how your lawns does. Maybe this is the answer we’ve been looking for.
    .-= Karen@Composting Bin´s last blog ..Composting with Worms =-.

    • 16

      Green Talk says

      Karen, we ended up ditching the spreader because my lawn is too big. Basically, we dumped and raked. I don’t have any magic about dandelions except to take their heads off before they spread their seeds. I use corn gluten for crab grass. See http://www.green-talk.com/2009.....s-a-charm/. Hope this works. Readers, any ideas about dandelions? Anna

      PS Lawns are tough…

  10. 17

    Adam @ Paper Lamp Shades says

    What a great idea. The lawn we have at the moment is completely shot and I have been trying to think how I could turn it around. I had already headed down the compost vs fertiliser route and opted for the compost. I feel it will provide the necessary stimulus to get us on the road to recovery. I will definitely consider the compost wheel to do the job. Many thanks for your help.
    .-= Adam @ Paper Lamp Shades´s last blog ..Privacy =-.

  11. 18

    travel says

    The explanation I follow this blog is mainly because I’m sure you do usually offer a fairly diverse leaning on points to a lot of alternative sites so congrats! !
    travel´s last blog post ..travel

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