Transform Your Yard: The Ultimate Guide to Compost-Based Landscaping (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our series, we covered the fundamentals of compost-based landscaping and the many benefits it offers.

Now, in Part 2, we’ll offer some practical advice on how to integrate compost into your landscape effectively. Whether you're planning to create your own compost pile or choose high-quality bagged products, we'll cover everything you need to know to get started.

We'll also guide you through preparing your yard, applying compost properly, selecting the right plants, and maintaining your compost-enhanced landscape.

Let's dive into making your garden not only more beautiful but also more sustainable with these hands-on strategies!

Types of Compost for Landscaping

Types of compost vary based on the materials used in their creation, and understanding which type is best for your landscaping can greatly enhance your garden’s health and beauty. The most common types include:

  • Garden Compost: Made from yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and branches.
  • Kitchen Compost: Created from fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells.
  • Manure Compost: Derived from animal waste and is excellent for adding nutrients but must be properly aged to avoid harm to plants.

Each type has different nutrient profiles and benefits, so choosing the right one depends on  goals, your soil’s needs, and the plants you’d like to grow.

How to Create Your Own Compost Pile: Basics for Beginners

Starting your own compost pile can be a fun project and a rewarding process. Here’s a super basic outline for how to tackle it:

  1. Choose a Location: Select a dry, shady spot near a water source.
  2. Add Organic Materials: Layer green materials (like kitchen scraps and grass clippings) and brown materials (such as dry leaves and branches) in a 1:3 ratio.
  3. Maintain Moisture and Aeration: Keep the compost moist as a wrung-out sponge and turn it regularly to introduce air, which speeds up the decomposition process.
  4. Monitor Progress: Your compost should be ready in 3 to 6 months, when it appears dark and crumbly.

Purchasing Compost: Tips for Selecting High-Quality Products

If creating your own compost isn’t an option, purchasing high-quality, bagged compost is still a solid option. Here are some tips to help you select the best product:

  • Check for Certification: Look for compost that has been certified by recognized organizations such as the US Composting Council's Seal of Testing Assurance (STA). This certification ensures the compost meets specific standards for maturity, stability, and contamination levels.
  • Read the Ingredients: A good bagged compost should list its contents clearly. It should ideally be made from a mix of plant materials and possibly manure, without any added synthetic chemicals. Avoid products with unspecified “filler” materials or those that include sewage sludge.
  • Smells Earthy: High-quality compost should have a pleasant, earthy smell. Avoid any product that smells sour or like ammonia, as these odors can indicate that the compost is not fully decomposed or is improperly balanced.
  • Look at Texture and Color: The compost should be dark, crumbly, and uniform in texture. It should not have any large pieces of uncomposted material such as branches or stones, which can indicate poor processing and lower quality.
  • Free of Contaminants: Ensure the bagged compost is free from contaminants like metals or plastics. Quality products will often advertise that they have been screened for contaminants.
  • Moisture Content: Good compost should feel moist but not wet. Overly dry compost may be old and less effective, while overly wet compost can be anaerobic, which might inhibit plant growth rather than support it.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing Compost-Based Landscaping

Application: Best Practices for Spreading CompostProper application is key to maximizing the benefits of compost:

  • Garden Beds: Integrate a 2-3 inch layer of compost into the top 6-8 inches of soil before planting or at the beginning of the growing season.
  • Lawns: Apply a 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of finely screened compost over the lawn. Use a rake to spread it evenly and ensure it filters down to the soil surface. This is best done in the spring or fall.
  • Trees and Shrubs: When planting new trees or shrubs, mix compost with the backfill soil. For established plants, spread compost around the base out to the drip line each spring.

Plant Selection: Choosing Plants That Thrive in Compost-Rich SoilOpt for plants that will benefit most from your enriched soil:

  • Vegetables and Herbs: Most edible plants thrive in compost-rich soil, which provides the nutrients they need to grow quickly and healthily.
  • Perennials and Annuals: Choose flowering plants and ornamentals that are known for their adaptability to rich organic soils.
  • Native Plants: Consider native species that are naturally predisposed to thrive in your local soil conditions, enhanced with compost.

Maintenance: Long-Term Care Tips for Compost-Enhanced YardsKeep your landscape vibrant and healthy with ongoing care:

  • Regular Composting: Annually add compost to maintain soil fertility, especially in areas of heavy planting.
  • Mulching: Use compost as a mulch to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and add a slow infusion of nutrients.
  • Monitoring and Adjusting: Regularly check plant health and growth. Adjust your composting and care techniques based on observations and changing conditions throughout the seasons.

ConclusionCompost can really do wonders for your landscaping, so we hope you’ll give compost-based landscaping a shot! And if you’re totally lost, don’t worry! Whether you’re new to the idea of compost-based landscaping or looking to refine your existing practices, Crown Town Landscapes is more than happy to help.

At Crown Town Landscapes, a premier Charlotte landscaper, we're passionate about sustainable landscaping. We take pride in this aspect of our work, knowing that each sustainable landscaping project in Charlotte contributes positively to preserving local biodiversity and promoting a healthier environment.

If you need help figuring out how to incorporate compost into your landscaping, give us a call! Crown Town Landscapes specializes in landscape design, installation, and maintenance, all with an eco-friendly approach. In other words, you can think of us as your mission-driven landscaper.