How to Compost a Lawn


Compost is an ideal organic fertilizer for both young and well-established lawn turf. It can enrich the soil, fill in divots, hold moisture to the roots and help keep unwanted weed seeds from germinating. Compost can be applied directly over young lawn grass with little to no thatch build-up. Established lawns will benefit more from a layer of compost if they are first aerated or de-thatched before the compost is applied. This process can be repeated once or twice per year to improve the health of the lawn.

Step 1

Purchase enough high-quality organic compost to cover over your entire lawn acreage evenly with between a ½- to 1½-inch-thick blanket of compost. Buy bagged or bulk depending on the amount of lawn and availability.

Step 2

Remove excess thatch and allow the compost nutrients to reach the soil by aerating or de-thatching the lawn. Make two passes over the lawn surface with either, and make the second pass at a 90-degree angle to the first to ensure even coverage. Use a flexible timed rake to collect all of the loose thatch or plugs, then discard.

Step 3

Hand cast, shovel over or use a walking spreader to distribute the compost evenly over the lawn surface. Start around the edges and work in rows from one end to the other to ensure even coverage.

Step 4

Water in the compost with your garden hose sprayer set to light rain or mist. Water deeply but gently to prevent displacement or runoff of the compost.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Shovel or drop spreader
  • Aerator or de-thatching tool
  • Flexible tine rake
  • Water
  • Garden hose with adjustable spray nozzle


  • This Old House: All About Lawns
  • Texas A&M University: Composting Lawns
Keywords: compost feed, organic lawn fertilizer, apply cast spread

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.