How Much Compost Do I Need Per Square Foot?

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Looking to add some compost to your garden but not sure how much you need per square foot? We’ve got you covered. Check out our blog post to learn everything you need to know about composting.

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Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recomposes into a crumbly, dark brown earthy-smelling substance that is rich in nutrients. It is an excellent amendment for gardens and landscapes and improves plant growth, especially when used as a top dressing or side dressing. Compost can also be mixed into potting soil or used as a mulch.

Factors to Consider When Calculating How Much Compost You Need

In general, you should use 1/2 to 1 pound of compost per square foot of garden area. But there are a few other factors to consider when calculating how much compost you need. The type of plants you are growing, the size of your garden, and the amount of organic matter in your soil all play a role in how much compost you will need.

The Type of Compost

There are many types of compost available on the market, and each type has different characteristics that you need to take into account when calculating how much you need. The three main types of compost are:

-Mushroom compost: This type of compost is made from manure and straw that has been decomposed by mushrooms. It is high in nitrogen and is a good choice for vegetable gardens.
-Peat moss: Peat moss is a type of organic matter that is decomposed Sphagnum Moss. It is acidic and low in nutrients, so it is often used to amend garden soil.
-Manure: Manure is a good source of nutrients for plants, but it can also contain weed seeds and pathogens that can be detrimental to your garden. Manure should be composted before using it in your garden.

When calculating how much compost you need, you also need to take into account the type of plants you are growing. Some plants, such as vegetables, require more nitrogen than others. You can use this information to determine how much compost you need per square foot.

For example, if you are growing vegetables in a 3×3 ft area, you would need 9 cu ft or 54 bags of mushroom compost.

The Purpose of the Compost

The first step in deciding how much compost you need is to determine the purpose of the compost. If you are using compost as a top dressing to improve the appearance of your lawn, you will need 1-2 inches of compost. If you are using compost to replenish nutrients in your garden beds, you will need 3-4 inches of compost. And if you are using compost to start a new garden bed, you will need 6-8 inches of compost.

The Area You Need to Cover

The first thing you need to consider when deciding how much compost you need is the area that you need to cover. How many square feet or yards do you need to spread it over? This will help you to determine how many bags or how much bulk compost you need to purchase.


As a general guideline, 1/2 to 1 inch of compost applied to the soil surface is adequate for most gardens. If you plan to start new plants from seeds, you may want to incorporate compost into the top 2-3 inches of soil to help provide nutrients and improve drainage.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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