How to Use Finished Compost


Many gardeners have a backyard pile of debris where organic matter slowly decomposes into a crumbly soil amendment known as compost. Those who don't make their own compost can buy the soil amendment from most garden stores and nurseries. Whatever your compost source, the material has a varied array of uses in your landscape and can boost the overall health and appearance of your garden.

Step 1

Wait for the compost to become ready to use. When fully decomposed, compost has a crumbly texture and a dark brown or black appearance, according to the University of Missouri. Depending on your style of composting, full decomposition may take two to nine months.

Step 2

Make a potting mix with the compost for your potted plants, both indoors and outdoors. Organisms in compost can help prevent various fungal-related diseases that often afflict houseplants, according to the University of Missouri. For the best results, Utah State University suggests mixing equal parts of compost, peat moss and coarse sand.

Step 3

Use the compost to feed your vegetable or flower garden. Virginia Tech University recommends mixing 2 inches of compost into your garden every spring, stirring it approximately 6 inches into the soil surface.

Step 4

Apply the compost as a mulch if it has a coarser texture, with a particle size of 1/2 inch or bigger, according to Utah State University. Spread the mulching compost on the surface of your soil to conserve soil moisture and help prevent weeds from growing.

Step 5

Fertilize your shrubs and trees with compost. Virginia Tech suggests spreading an inch of compost around your trees, covered by 2 inches of shredded bark mulch. As the compost and mulch decompose further, the resulting nutrients and acids penetrate the soil and improve its fertility and structure.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use compost too early when it's not fully decomposed. When mixed with the soil, it will continue rotting and can use up the nutrients in the surrounding soil, according to Kansas State University.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Mulch
  • Peat moss
  • Coarse sand


  • "Burpee: The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener"; Karan Cutler, et al.; 1997
  • University of Missouri: Making and Using Compost
  • Virginia Tech University: Using Compost in Your Landscape
  • Utah State University: Making and Using Compost
  • Kansas State University: Using Compost
Keywords: use finished compost, compost uses, applying garden compost

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.