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Manure Fertilizer

Use your horse's manure to help grow grass in your lawn.
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How Much Cow Manure Should You Use in a Garden?

Well-aged cow manure should be applied at a rate of between 25 to 100 lbs. of manure for every 100 square feet of garden. If a crop is described as a "heavy feeder," use the upper end of the scale for garden fertilization. On the other hand, if you are advised to "avoid excess nitrogen," you can confidently apply cow manure at the lower end of the range.

Well-aged cow manure should be applied at a rate of between 25 to 100 lbs. of manure for every 100 square feet of garden. If a crop is described as a "heavy feeder," use the upper end of the scale for garden fertilization. On the other hand, if you are advised to "avoid excess nitrogen," you can confidently apply cow manure at the lower end of the range.

Growing Grass With Horse Manure

Set your manure in a pile in the sun. You want the manure to remain in this pile until it gets hot enough that a temperature reading comes back at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature needed to kill E. coli and other bacteria. You can use a meat thermometer to take the temperature.

Place the manure into pillow cases and toss them in the 55-gallon barrel.

Fill the barrel with water and allow it to sit in the sun for one to three weeks. When you come back, the water will be the color of tea. This is where the term "compost tea" comes from.

Remove the pillow cases and pour the liquid fertilizer into a garden sprayer.

Spray your lawn evenly with this solution. It helps if you start at the back of your property and work your way to the front. Consistently move from one side to the other. This ensures you will not miss a spot.

Nutrient Analysis of Chicken Manure


Chicken manure is highest in nitrogen, and therefore most useful in promoting leafy growth. Bagged manure may state the nitrogen level (the first number of the three on the bag) as 1.1 to 1.8 percent.


Phosphorus can vary from 0.5 to 0.8 percent or more. If used in vegetable gardens or other beds where you want flowers or fruit, you may need supplement with a fertilizer higher in this element.


Potassium levels can vary from 0.5 to 1.5 percent and may also need to be supplemented for flowers and fruit.


Chicken manures, like most organic materials, have a wide variety of micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium, iron, sulfur and zinc.

Effect on pH

Chicken manure tends to be alkaline, of a pH between 6.7 and 8.0, and so should not be applied to acid-loving plants such as blueberries, strawberries, rhododendrons and heather.

Is Horse Manure Good for Vegetable Gardening?

Manure is best used after being composted and then mixed with the soil before planting your veggie patch.
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Horse manure that is well-cured into crumbling compost is an eco-friendly and healthy alternative to chemical fertilizers and mulch. Fresh manure can be spread and mixed into the soil in the fall or early spring to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Extra nitrogen may need to be added if there's a lot of sawdust or woodchips mixed in.

How Long Does It Take to Cure Cow Manure?

Cured cow manure is used as an addition to garden soil.
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Fresh manure needs to be cured for about six months before it can be used in the garden. Until it is fully cured, fresh manure releases high amounts of nitrogen compounds and ammonia that can burn the roots of young plants and inhibit the germination of seeds, according to Thrifty Fun.

How to Use Composted Manure

Dig your garden space in the fall anywhere from 8 to 12 inches deep. Pull spent vegetable plants and clear rocks and other debris from the soil.

Spread a 2-to-4-inch layer of well-composted manure over the surface of the garden.

Let the manure remain on the surface through the fall and over the winter. As rain comes and snow melts, the nutrients in the manure will begin to leach into the soil.

Mix the manure thoroughly into the soil in the spring once the ground has thawed. You can add more composted manure at this time; work it into the soil immediately.

Plant your vegetable or flower garden. If some of your plants benefit from mulch, you can substitute composted manure. Do not pack the manure against the stems of the plants; the nitrogen could burn them.

The Best Liquid Fertilizer for Vegetable Plants

The best liquid fertilizer for vegetable plants is a combination of manure and water. This mix is known as manure tea. Chemical fertilizers may remain in vegetables, while manure tea is an organic food the plants utilize fully. Manure should be used from animals that have not been given hormones or chemically laden feed.

Is Horse Manure As Good As Cow Manure in a Garden?

Cow manure supplies nutrients and improves soil quality.
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Horse manure is almost as good as cow manure in the garden. Both contain similar percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, the three essential nutrients that plants need. But "dairy manure may be the single most useful soil builder around," says author and gardener Ann Jovejoy.

How to Use Cow or Horse Manure in a Food Garden

Test the soil prior to adding composted manure or any amendments. The soil may not need manure added, or it may need manure and a combination of other nutrients. Contact your local county extension office for soil sample information.

Plan to add manure to the soil in the fall, after harvesting, or in the spring, before planting.

Add 1 to 2 inches of manure to the top of the soil prior to sowing seeds and work into the soil, turning over the top 6 to 9 inches. According to “Garden Soil Management,” published online by Iowa State University Extension, it will take between 500 and1,000 pounds of manure for each 1,000 square feet of garden.

Side dress the vegetable garden with composted manure, when appropriate for fertilizing the particular vegetable. This involves spreading the composted manure along the side of the rows and not directly on the plant.

Is Cow Manure Suitable for Use in Vegetable Gardens?

Cow manure is an organic and effective composting material and is suitable for vegetable gardening. Cow manure is best for vegetable gardens when mixed with other high-quality composting material.

Is Composted Manure Good for Roses?

Composted manure helps produce healthy, beautiful roses.
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Composted manure is rich in garden nutrients. It releases nitrogen into the soil gently and slowly to promote healthy, leafy growth. It also lightens heavy soils, improving drainage. In sandy soils, manure provides needed organic matter and improves water retention.


Composted, or well-rotted, manure is black and crumbly and falls easily through the fingers. It smells fresh and earthy, not like smelly manure.

Finding Manure

The best manure comes from cattle and horse farms, where farmers are often eager to allow gardeners to remove some of the abundant waste. Well-rotted manure is usually found at the bottom of the manure pile, below the smelly brown, fresh manure.


Composted manure can be added when roses are planted. In very heavy or very sandy soils, one-third added manure will improve soil structure and add nutrition. It can also be added as a top dressing to soils in spring for use as a mulch and natural fertilizer.

How to Compost Cow Manure

Scoop the cow manure onto the compost pile.

Add an equal amount, by volume of hay or other "brown" compost material to the pile.

Add one or two handfuls of garden soil or non-sterilized potting soil to the pile.

Turn the pile to turn and thoroughly mix the ingredients in the compost pile.

Repeat steps one through four until you compost pile is between 3 and 5 cubic feet in size. Then continue to turn the pile once weekly until the contents turn to compost.