A Compost Primer
Most gardeners and landscapers will agree almost unanimously that the single best thing you can do for your lawn is to add compost. Good, organic compost can remedy almost any problem you have with your soil. If you soil is too acidic, adding compost will help neutralize it and bring it back to a proper pH level. If your soil is too alkaline, ditto! Adding compost will help balance the alkalinity in the soil. If you live in an area with a lot of heavy clay, adding compost will help loosen and aerate the soil. If you live in a coastal or southern area with a lot of sand, adding compost will help bind it together. Soil lacking nutrients? Add compost to add new life to overworked soil.
So how do you make compost? It's easier than you can imagine and cheaper than
anything else you will do. How cheap? How about free! All composting is, is the
natural decomposition of organic matter. Walk through a dense forest and take a
deep handful of soil from under your feet. Notice how black and rich it is. It didn't
get that way from fertilizers or manure. It got that way from all the decomposing
organic matter. A forest takes care of itself by recycling. It recycles every leaf,
branch, berry, and bush. It does this quite simply. All the organic and living matter
in the forest decomposes into compost which feeds the existing plants (and some
In the forest, when leaves fall from the trees, they all gather on the forest floor. In
storms, branches may fall, as well as entire trees. This creates layers of organic
matter on the forest floor. Eventually it rains adding fuel to the mixture. The rain
aids the microbes that begin to eat the organic matter, eventually turning it into the
rich, thick carpet you see on the forest floor. This compost feeds the living trees and
other plants providing nutrients that rival the best fertilizers.
You can emulate the forest by creating your own compost. Avoid store bought
compost, especially those made from manure. There's nothing natural about
spreading rotted and decomposed cow feces on your lawn or garden. It's actually
pretty gross! Especially considering the number of chemicals and steroids that are
given to cattle and cows in the United States. If you must purchase or acquire
compost from somewhere else, call your local municipal office. Many municipalities
have their own composting facilities and they give away the compost to their
residents for free! In our township, for example, all the leaves that are gathered in
the fall from the local streets, are mulched up and composted in a huge field. In a
year or two, once the leaves have thoroughly composted, we are permitted to haul
away as much compost as we like! The only catch is that we must load it ourselves,
but this is a small price to pay for free, organic mulch.
Dean Novosat is an avid gardener and landscaper. He has transformed many boring
yards into beautiful landscapes. He has several websites including www.the-garden-doctor.com">http://www.the-garden-doctor.com and www.dr-landscape.com">http://www.dr-landscape.com.