May 01, 2016

Why Use Compost?

Compost is not a fertilizer. It is a soil amendment. It improves low-quality soils by adding organic matter and nutrients. Increasing orgaic matter in the soil improves soil structure so plants, grassed, trees and vegetables will have a healthier growing media. This allows the root system better access to water and nutrients. Experience has shown that plants that are grown in good soil are healthier and have a greater resistence to diseases and reduce water, fertilizer and pesticide/herbicide needs.

Compost has many valuable applications: lawn, potted plants, tree and shrub planting, gardens, improving soil quality, starter mixes and plant disease suppression.

Proper Use of Compost

1. Garden and flower beds: Spread compost uniformly over the entire area, average depth of one to two inches. Incorporate to a depth of four to eight inches (root zone). Apply starter fertilizer (NPK 15-15-10) with compost only if you are applying two inches of compost. Smooth the surface, plant, then water.

2. Turf: Spread compost uniformly over entire area, average depth of one to two inches. Incorporate to a depth of four to 8 inches (root zone). Apply starter fertilizer (NPK 15-15-10) to smooth soil. Remember to water thoroughly after seeding or sodding. If necessary due to hot, dry weather, top-dress newly seeded areas with ¼ inch layer of fine compost (3/8 inch or finer) and water well.

3. Landscape: Spread compost uniformly over the entire area, average depth 2-3 inches immediately after weed removal and planting. Avoid placing up against trunks or stems of any plant material. Water thouroughloy before and after to saturate root zone.

4. Backfill for trees and shrubs: Dig a hole ine inch shallower than the depth of the root ball. And 2-3 times wider than the root ball or the container, The finished planting area should be wider than it’s depth . Set the root ball on undisturbed soil so that the top of the root ball will sit slightly higher than the final grade. No compost or fertilizer should be used at the time of planting. Backfill and firm the soil around the root ball, careful not to have the soil above the root flare on the trunk. Spread compost or wood chips around the tree several inches from the trunk.


Compost should be used as a soil amendment ad well blended into the root zone (first 4-8 inches of soil depth) in the fall. Integrating compost opens up the soil for breathing as well as increasing the ability to retain moisture. When the soil warms in the spring, the essential microbes will thrive and provide nutrients for young plants.

Integrating the compost into the soil  in the fall allows the microbial colonies to accumulate before planting. The compost, soil microbial activity and overall structure will improve with yearly fall applications.

A general purpose lawn starter fertilizer rated 15 (nitrogen) 15 (phosphorus) 10 (potassium, should be incorporated in the soil before planting. The starting fertilizer if applying 2” of compost. Do not apply if you are adding one inch or less.

Compost application per 1,000 square feet

¼ inch layer                 .75 cubic yard              500 lbs                        .25 tons

½ inch layer                 1.5 cubic yards            1000 lbs                       .5 tons

1 inch layer                  3 cubic yards               2000 lbs                       1 ton

2 inch layer                  6 cubic yards               4000 lbs                       2 tons

Compost is a soil additive that creates a nutrient rich environment for all types of gardening. It is appropriate for both food and flower gardening, lawns, bushes, trees and roses.


Compost products available:

3/8 inch yard waste compost $20 per ton.

3/4 inch yard waste compost $15 per ton


Pick up availability

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Rapid City Landfill

5555 South Highway 79


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