How To Integrate Compost Into A Perennial Garden? - Knowledgebase Question

Chicago, IL
Question by IdeaQueenA
March 7, 2000
I am a new gardener, having purchased a house from the previous president of the neighborhood garden club. I'd like to keep it healthy and beautiful. I have a compost bin, have begun the compost process and am eagerly looking forward to "feeding" my garden soil with nutrients. However, the garden is almost all perennials -- full during the spring/summer months. How do I incorporate compost without disturbing the plants? I've read that you spread out 4 inches of compost and till it in 8-10 inches deep, but that doesn't seem to make sense unless you're starting with an "empty" garden. What's the best way?


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Answer from NGA
March 7, 2000

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You can spread a thin (1" - 2") layer of finished compost over the soil around your perennials. As it continues to decompose it will provide nutrients to the roots of your plants. Perennial beds usually need to be dug and divided every 3-4 years when the plants become overcrowded. You can use this opportunity to incorporate additional organic matter into the bed prior to replanting your perennials.

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