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When to Add Compost to Your Garden? (Explained)

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Gardening and planting trees are therapeutic. And it adds to the joy when they grow healthy and in plenty. And this process is sped up with the help of composts. You can use compost almost for every plant.

When to add compost to your garden?

You can add compost to your garden before and after planting plants in various methods. Add before planting to make the soil more fertile. And add after planting for better growth of plants. The need for compost depends on the growing season. Compost enriches the soil with organic nutrients.

The process of adding compost to your garden is necessary for the better cultivation of various types of plants.

There are two types of compost. One is homemade that requires a lot of time to break down. And the other is the processed ones available in the markets.

Early fall:

Applying compost to your garden will elevate the process of absorbing more nutrients from the plant. And if you add it by early fall, it gets enough time to work and make the soil fertile by the spring.


You can also add compost to your garden in spring. Add it to the base of plants at this time. Applying one layer of compost to the soil is enough for the plants.

When using compost before planting the seeds, use it one or two weeks before the plantation. But, when adding it to pre-planted saplings, add it on the upper surface of the plant.

Before planting season:

Your garden soil can get dry or rough because of a lack of water.

Or there can be many foreign elements present in it. Prepare your soil beforehand every planting season. Do this according to the climate of your region.

To get rid of these issues, dig the soil well and mix compost with it in a generous amount. It will increase the value of nutrients in the soil.

After planting:

After planting various seeds and plants in your garden, you can add compost for better results and growth of the plants.

Vegetables need regular compost for better production. Moreover, you can use compost for other plants as well. Just check the compost and its versatility with the plant you plan to use it in.

Is it too late to add compost to my garden?

No, it is not too late to add compost to your garden. Early fall is a proper time to add compost to your soil. In this way, the plant soil becomes full of nutrients by spring.

Moreover, you can add compost to the soil anytime you like. But make sure your compost is properly cured. Else it will harm your plants more than benefit them.

Adding homemade compost is healthier for plants. And you have to be careful about its proper application.

Adding compost to plants earlier in the fall helps the plants and soil to absorb more nutrients. The soil becomes less prone to drought. Moreover, the growth of weeds reduces by adding compost in the proper amount and time.

The growing seasons need to be kept in mind while applying compost to plants and soils. Compost increases the value of nutrients in the soil and helps the plants absorb more of it.

Do you add compost before or after planting?

You can add compost to plants both before and after planting them. But it has to be done following different methods. You have to be very careful regarding the use of compost.

Composts need to be cured properly before their use. Otherwise, the active micro-organism might harm the soil and plant instead of helping it.

Start 1/2 weeks before you plan to plant your seed. Lightly dig and keep the compost at rest for 7-14 days. Then you can plant your crop or seed.

Do not dig a hole and put compost into freshly planted seeds. It will hamper the root growth deep into the ground.

If you want to apply compost to existing plants or after planting them, use another method. In that case, use the compost as mulch.

Or, use the side dressing method of applying your compost a few inches away from your plants. It saves the new roots and prevents the growth of weeds around your plants.

Can I just put compost on top of the soil? Do you mix compost with soil?  

For amending the quality of your soil, add a 2-inch layer of compost over 3-5 inches of soil. Mix the compost with the soil in fall and spring for flowering plants.

You have to move the top layer of soil from the plant and mix it with a layer of compost in spring. The plants should get enough nutrients. 

Also, add a layer of an inch of compost in the fall to rejuvenate the roots of the plants.

Add compost directly to the base of the vegetable plants. Do it in the fall, in intervals according to the requirement of the vegetable you are growing.

For annual beds, spread compost over them once a year. It will control the weed growth in the fields. And it will retain the moisture of the soil as well.

How often should I add compost to my plants? When should I add compost to my fall or spring garden?

Compost and its use depend upon the plant you are harvesting and its nature. The planting season depends upon the geographical location of your place of harvesting.

If you have one or two planting seasons, prepare your soil beds before that planting season. 

For cooler regions, apply compost to plants once a year. The growing season in those areas is up to early fall from spring.

In warmer regions, prepare for the compost twice a year. In these places, there are two harvesting seasons, hot and cold. And the soils in warmer areas are congenial for year-round planting and growth of plants.

Mid-march is a good time to add compost after preparing your soil. It allows them the time to cure and get ready for full-fledged development.

To add compost to fall and spring gardens, apply them before their growing season. You can add the compost one or two weeks before the plantation.

How much compost should I add to my vegetable garden?

Compost increases the value of your soil and enriches it with nutrients. Applying compost to your plants and soils increases their development and growth. But you have to be mindful regarding the method of application and its usage dose.

Vegetables require more nutrition compared to other plants. Vegetables grow and take nutrients from the soil in plenty. Therefore, you have to add compost in large amounts to fulfill its needs.

In fall, add compost in plenty to the vegetable plants. Apply it in short intervals in layers of half inches to get maximum growth.

Some vegetables require more care and compost than others. In those cases, use plenty of compost at intervals of one month to the base of the vegetable plants. These vegetables include corn, squash, tomatoes, etc.

You can also add the compost in holes you make for planting vegetables. It helps in the growing stage.

How do I apply compost to my garden?

Curing the compost before applying it to the garden is necessary. Otherwise, it will attract more bugs and cause more harm to the plants.

Some ways to apply compost in gardens:


For mulching the soil of an entire garden, you have to apply the compost to the whole garden soil. The method requires a lot of compost.

First, dig the soil and rake it to spread the compost all over the garden at a depth of 40-45 mm.


You can use compost to amend the soil of your garden or lawn.

If the soil lacks moisture, you have to dig it and apply the compost.

For remediating a rich soil, you can apply the compost to the surface without digging up the soil.

Liquid compost application:

Stir and mix the compost and water in the ratio of 1:3 to make liquid compost. Liquid compost is easy to make. Let it rest and cure for 3-5 days.

Retaining moisture:

Various garden soils are so dry and rough that it develops a waxy coat. To break down this covering, you can use compost by digging up the soil and mixing the compost thoroughly with the soil.

Dig the soil properly and then add a generous amount of compost in it and mix them well. Then water the upper layer of the soil when adding the compost.

Final Thoughts

You can add compost to your garden in various methods and times. Plants of different types have different needs. But you can add it before the plantation season and after planting them as well. Be mindful about curing it before adding it to the soil. Add in a generous amount for best results.

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