Answer: You can topdress or spread a thin layer of compost over planting areas in the fall or the spring -- or in summer for that matter. Its effects are long term so there is no critical best time to do it. It is a good idea to apply compost on a regular basis however, typically once or twice a year. You would probably also want to top that with mulch to keep it from blowing away or washing away. If you are planning to dig it into a planting bed as a source of organic matter and soil amendment, that can also be done in spring or fall but again you would want to mulch to protect the soil. To some extent you may have to go by whether or not it is available for sale at any given time.
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