Making a compost heap is not difficult, and it works wonders in adding nutrients to the soil on and around plants, trees, and gardens. Compost is good for just about everything, but what about a lawn? Can compost improve grass that is patchy and needs to look fuller?
Compost can be very good for lawn grass and can indeed work wonders in a patchy looking lawn that needs small or even large areas filled in. In combination with grass seed, most people are surprised by how well some good compost works for their yard.
What Is Compost?
Compost is simply a combination of biodegradable materials that will decompose and create soil that is filled with all sorts of nutrients, and once it’s sprinkled on a garden or any type of plant, that plant grows and thrives much better.
Compost piles need biodegradable materials, water, and air to do well. Some many items that can be placed in these piles include:
- Coffee grounds
- Corrugated cardboard pieces
- Dead plants – as long as they are not diseased
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Grass clippings
- Leaves and pine needles
- Shredded paper
- Tea bags
There are also items that should never be placed in a compost, including meats, dairy products, oils and fats, bones, and excrement made by cats or dogs. Most of these items simply take too long to break down, and pet manure can have debris in it.
People who create composts should aim for a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of “browns” to “greens,” with brown items being things such as leaves and twigs, that is, things high in carbon; and greens being items such as vegetable peelings and grass clippings.
Compost piles should also be watered and turned at least once a week. This aeration helps the ingredients decompose quicker so that the compost can be used a lot sooner. Compost can take anywhere from one month to six months to be ready to use.
How do people know when their compost is ready to be used? Simple – the compost should be nice and dark, rich and full, and crumbly and damp. Sometimes it is also sticky, but most of the time it will be as wet as a wrung-out sponge – neither too wet nor too dry.
The Benefits of Using Compost on Grass
Sometimes, lawns can look patchy and sort of bald in certain spots, but not to worry because a little compost can help change that sooner than most people realize. Compost used on lawns is called top dressing, and some of its many benefits include:
- It breaks up soil that is hard and heavy. Clay soil, for instance, can be broken down and made more valuable with a little compost placed on top of it.
- It keeps certain microorganisms working to improve the look of the lawn. This includes fungi and bacteria that digest organic matter then convert it into healthy matter for plants and trees.
- It makes sandy soil look a lot fuller. Certain soils, such as those made mostly of sand, will look much fuller with a little compost on top of them.
Of course, compost does more than just make the lawn look nicer and fuller. It also encourages the growth of the grass so that eventually, the lawn is thick and plush and much healthier than it was before.
For the best results, placing compost on the lawn once or twice a year is the best idea. Also, only enough to fill in the holes should be used. Using too much compost can keep the grass from getting the sunshine it needs to grow.
When using top dressing, no more than half-an-inch of compost should be used. This way, the warmth from the sun can still get to the grass that’s underneath the compost. This is crucial for making sure the lawn stays healthy and lush for many years to come.
Compost placed on top of a lawn helps the lawn stay lush and free of weeds, nourishes the soil underneath the lawn, and increases the amount of microbial activity going on in the lawn, helping those bald spots become thick and gorgeous sooner than most people think.
When to Place Compost on the Lawn
As a general rule, placing top dressing on top of the lawn before winter time gets here is the smartest option. The cool weather from the winter months helps absorb the compost, which is why it’s best to add compost to the lawn before the first freeze occurs.
Other benefits of placing compost on the lawn before the weather turns cold include:
- Deters the soil from becoming compacted and overly hard, which can happen during the winter months.
- Helps break up thatch, which usually builds up in the fall and can become worse in the wintertime if nothing is done about it.
- Provides the energy the lawn needs to support the upcoming cold weather. It essentially prepares the lawn for the cold!
Compost is often called “black gold,” and with good reason. Its dark color and top-notch nutrients make it as good as gold for the lawn, trees, and various plants and flowers. Since it is super simple and very inexpensive to create a good compost, there is simply no reason not to do so.
Only lawns that look full and healthy will continue to look good and last year after year. Adding compost to patchy lawns only has to be done one to two times a year, and it isn’t at all a difficult job. Nevertheless, it is a true miracle-worker in keeping a great-looking lawn.
People who might be confused by what items to put into a compost should keep in mind that they should only include items that are biodegradable and which break down quickly. Items that break down slowly – including meats and dairy products – will simply make people wait too long to use their compost.
Once the compost is ready, it can be used for both the lawn and other areas in the yard, including vegetable gardens, trees, flowers, and green plants. It is not necessary to use different composts on different items in the yard.