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Finding good compost for topdressing

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by freakyhair, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. freakyhair

    freakyhair LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    Hey all,

    I'm looking for some tips on finding properly aged compost for topdressing my lawn. I ordered some compost last year from a reputable mulch/compost supply place, and there was still quite a bit of un-decomposed material (small pieces of sticks, etc). When I spoke with them, they said that is the finest they screen their compost.

    Are there any good pointers (or sources in MN) on finding well aged compost?

  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    As long as those little chunks of sticks can be easily crushed with your fingers I wouldn't worry about using it...
  3. caseysmowing

    caseysmowing LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,117

    Also interested.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. LawnMowerKing10

    LawnMowerKing10 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 837

    I have had great luck with LeafGro.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I would look for local compost available from construction yards and county dumps... There should be no need for using bags of regional or national distributed brands,,, unless it is a small job... :)
  6. RedSox4Life

    RedSox4Life LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,673

    I'll second that finding sticks (and other strange objects) is pretty normal, and doesn't mean it's inferior compost. It's not the easiest material to screen.
  7. PicturePerfectLawns

    PicturePerfectLawns LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,847

    Some compost are inferior to others. But I don't think a few sticks here and there make it any less inferior. I'd be looking more at the NPK levels in the compost as oppose to a few sticks here and there.
  8. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,049

    The simplest way to tell if your compost is mature - ready to use - is the "bag test." Put a handful of compost into a zip-lock bag and leave it sealed for a week or so. Then open the bag and smell it. If you detect an ammonia or sour odor the compost has not finished curing.

    IMHO, NPK is not really relevant with compost. You have to consider that the microbes in compost will begin to break down nutrients into plant available forms.
    Some bacteria will pull N from the air in the soil, fungi will mine P & K and make it usable by plants. Additionally, many of the minor nutrients will be made plant available.

    Plus, compost will increase soil porosity and even out soil moisture. But you must use finished compost. If not, the the unfinished stuff will sequester nutrients for awhile and turf will suffer until this process is completed.
  9. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,219

    Call JMJ Landscape Supply of Rochester (google him), he keeps an excellent quality product on hand. Dry, loamy, no large sticks.
    I also used Hsu's compost in bags, but the stuff was WAAAYYY too wet and I paid the piper on that one. Good quality stuff but they should not have bagged it so wet.
  10. LawnMowerKing10

    LawnMowerKing10 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 837

    Make sure you check the compost before buying it. Had a friend buy a load to spread on his yard and it burnt the whole yard. Had chunks of concrete in it and smelled funny. Lets just say, they are never buying for that nursery again.

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