How to Apply Cow Manure


Cow manure, used as a fertilizer, is an organic option that provides nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to plants along with trace minerals without the use of chemicals. Manure must be aged or composted prior to applying to a garden or around plants to prevent foliage burn from the high level of nitrogen in fresh manure. Cows have an advanced digestive system that breaks down the feed particles to reduce seeds that create weeds in the garden.

Step 1

Spread cow manure on an empty flower or vegetable garden in the fall season, at a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch. Allow the cow manure to age for six months prior to planting in it.

Step 2

Create a compost pile of manure outdoors in the fall to age over the winter months. Use the composted manure around plants already in the ground.

Step 3

Work spread cow manure into the top six inches of soil with a tiller at least one month before planting the flower or vegetable garden in the spring.

Step 4

Water the soil well to spread the nutrients through the soil and let it rest for three to four weeks.

Step 5

Hot compost the compost pile of manure in spring by not using it on plants until the internal temperature pile reaches 150 degrees F.

Step 6

Apply composted manure to plants already in the ground by spreading it around the plants at 1/2 inch thickness. This is called top dressing and is commonly done in the spring, but can be done anytime during the growing season as long as the manure is composted.

Step 7

Water the manure well immediately after application to push the nutrients into the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Cow manure
  • Shovel
  • Pitch fork
  • Tiller
  • Compost thermometer
  • Water


  • Manure Matters
  • BBC Home: Manure
Keywords: cow manure fertilizer, apply cow manure, manure garden fertlizer

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.