Got the Scoop on Dirt?

Pre-season garden work that pays off

“Dirt,” “soil” – whatever you call it, some of us like to dig in with our own hands and others would rather have someone else do the digging.  Either way, if you want a great garden this year, it’s best to get the soil in order before someone starts digging.  

Early February is an ideal time to apply compost, regardless of the weather.  That means toss it on top of the snow!  

Why compost?
Compost on its own is low in nutrient value.  It’s not valuable for what it is, so much as what it does – and the doing takes time.  Even if you are not able to till compost into the soil when you apply it, an early application gives the compost adequate time to do its work.  

Why winter composting is good
Compost needs time to mellow or break down and that’s why a winter-time application is beneficial, even if it is not tilled into the soil.  Compost creates a homogeneous soil mixture ripe with microbial activity.  This process does not add many nutrients to the soil, but improves the soil’s capacity to hold onto both nutrients and water.  It improves the root zone.  That is why compost is so good for the garden and of course, the plants grown there.

How to shop for compost
Shop for compost that is well-aged and low in salt.  Also, look for varieties that have little or no fillers.  Compost by nature is all organic, so composts that are labeled “mixes” that contain sand or other inorganic fillers are generally less than optimal.

How much should I buy?
Applying 1 cubic yard of compost per 100 square feet of garden is the rule of thumb.  However, if your soil has been well amended in the past, you can use less.  The best value is in bulk purchases, so if you have 100 square feet of garden or more, a pick-up load might be the most cost effective.  Most pick-ups hold 1 ½ to 2 cubic yards.  If you order bulk delivery from a supplier, the minimum order is usually 5 or more cubic yards.

Reminder:  compost is about more than growing good veggies.  It’s a key ingredient when establishing a healthy, low-water lawn and for all the other plants in your landscape. 

Need help getting compost into your garden?  Designscapes Colorado experts are at

This entry was posted in Residential, Lawn & Garden Care, Green Landscape