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Soil and Compost Preparation for Spring Planting in Your Lawn, Garden and Flower Beds

October 2, 2013

Soil and Compost Preparation for Spring Planting in Your Lawn, Garden and Flower Beds

The winter months can seem to drag on to the anxious gardener who anticipates working in their yard or garden.  A gardener and/or homeowner’s first project for spring is preparing the soil for their lawn or garden.  In Colorado this can be especially challenging as the soil is dense in clay limiting the water retention and maximum root growth for plants and sod.  The solution is to amend the soil with organics, also known as compost.

Compost is made-up of leftover organics such as food, lawn clippings, manure, foliage and animal bedding or shaving.  Most importantly there are no additives.  You can buy compost at various home improvement stores but that can be costly and there is no guarantee that what you are buying is truly organic in origin.  It is to your benefit to work with a landscaping material supplier for the best products.

Following are the main areas for soil preparation and the steps to take to maximize growth potential.

  • Lawns or sod

Before planting grass seed or laying sod, the ground will need to be tilled to approximately four inches in depth and compost added into the soil. The application rate is 3-5 yards per 1,000 square feet depending on the density of the clay or one-third compost to two-thirds soil or clay.  Spread the compost across the planting area.  You can then use a roto-tiller or even a shovel to thoroughly mix the compost into the clay or soil. Now you can lay the sod or add seed.


  • Garden plots or flower beds

The application rate for beds or plots is approximately 50% compost to 30% soil to 20% sand.  Again, a professional landscaping materials supplier like ARS Landscape Materials and Supply (www.arslandscapematerialsandsupply.com) can assist you with the final mixture for accuracy.  It is important that the correct mixture be used so that the clay is broken up allowing for adequate drainage and the roots are not sitting in moisture.  Bedding areas should be tilled eight to 12 inches deep.  Add the compost and till into the bed. This also works in raised beds. Planters mix or garden mix is a great alternative and ready to use as opposed to doing the digging and tilling yourself.

  • Trees or shrubs

Preparation for trees or shrubs begins by excavating a hole for planting.  A general rule is to dig a hole across that is twice the width of the rootball and the depth of the hole should be to the bottom of the rootball or container it came in.  Then combine 25% compost to 75% existing soil, add to the exavated hole, drop in the rootball and cover with the remaining mixed soil to the top of the hole.  Leave slightly mounded for good drainage.

There is more to soil than meets the eye and use of properly aged compost added to soil can maximize the growth of your plants.  If a compost is too rich or “hot” it can burn the roots of young plants and cause fungus problems.  Consult with a landscaping materials supplier for properly aged compost.

To get more tips on planting, the types of compost available and the most cost effective ways to purchase it, please visit ARS Landscape Materials and Supply in Arvada.  Or call Ron Beyer directly at 303-748-0844 with any questions.  Our staff is available to assist you in all of your landscaping material needs.

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