If you’re looking at your brown and patchy lawn and thinking of calling a lawn care company, don’t reach for the phone just yet. Compost provides an alternative to synthetic lawn fertilizers by giving your lawn with the boost it needs without overapplying nutrients. While you can use all types of compost to improve your grass, we’re going to focus on the question is cotton burr compost good for lawns?
Short Answer: Is Cotton Burr Compost Good for Lawns?
Cotton burr compost, compost made from the remnants of cotton plants, provides lawns with a boost of organic matter, beneficial microbes, and nutrients.
When you add cotton burr compost to a lawn, you improve the structure of the soil, which leads to better aeration and drainage. This translates into a healthier growing environment for grass and an improved lawn.
The short answer? Yes, cotton burr compost is good for lawns, as long as it’s properly applied.
What is Cotton Burr Compost?
Farmers grow cotton plants for their fiber, but this familiar fluffy white substance is just one part of the plant. After farmers harvest the fiber, leaves, stalks, and other organic materials remain.
In the past, the waste was burned or tilled back into the soil. Now, people compost some of this waste in large facilities.
Unless you have access to cotton residues, you’ll have to buy your cotton burr compost in stores.
All About Applying Cotton Burr Compost to Lawns
If you’re interested in improving your lawn with cotton burr compost, we’re going to tell you all you need to know to get started.
Cotton burr compost tends to be a bit coarser than some other types of compost, such as mushroom compost and leaf compost. The larger bits infiltrate the native soil, leading to improved aeration and drainage — benefits that are especially useful in compacted clay soils.
Like other composts, cotton burr compost serves as a food source for soil microbial life. As these beneficial microbes take over the soil, they make nutrients more available and help plants ward off diseases and pests.
After compost applications, grasses experience increased growth. As roots grow, they break up the soil leading to improved soil structure, which in turn leads to better growth! This win-win is what you’re aiming for when you add compost to your lawn.
How to Apply
When it comes time to apply cotton burr compost to your lawn, you have several options. The two most popular methods are topdressing and compost tea.
The first option is spreading a thin layer of compost over the surface of your lawn — a process known as topdressing. Although there are various ways you can topdress, experts suggest adding multiple light applications of compost rather than one heavy application. A good practice is to apply about 1/4 inch of compost every month.
If you have a small yard or are feeling like you need a character-building challenge, you can apply the compost by hand. But if you’d like a more feasible method, use a compost spreader.
Another way you can utilize cotton burr compost to improve your lawn is by making a compost tea. While this method requires an extra step, it can help extend the reach of a small bit of compost, potentially saving you money.
When you apply a cotton burr compost tea, you receive many of the same benefits as when you add straight compost. The tea provides your lawn with a boost of beneficial microbes and nutrients, so you’ll still notice an improvement in soil structure.
What is Cotton Burr Compost Good For?
Although cotton burr compost is great for lawns, it also has a number of other uses.
Since this type of compost is great at improving aeration and drainage, it’s useful for improving garden soils. By spreading a few inches of compost and mixing this into the top 6-8 inches of soil, you’ll notice your soil has an improved structure.
When it comes time to plant seeds or transplants, crops are more likely to thrive in this amended soil.
Cotton burr compost can also be used as a mulch to reduce evaporation and conserve moisture. By spreading an inch or two around plants, you’ll have to water less frequently in the scorching summer months.
A Note of Caution
While cotton burr compost provides numerous benefits, it does have a potential downfall you should watch out for.
As we’ve explained above, this type of compost is made from cotton plants. In the US, fewer than one percent of cotton is grown organically. This means that the majority of cotton used to produce cotton burr compost could have been sprayed with synthetic pesticides and herbicides.
In fact, cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. While these plants take up only 2.5% of cultivated land worldwide, they account for 15% of global pesticide use.
How does this relate to compost? While some of these pesticides break down during the composting process, the finished compost is not often tested for residual pesticides. Therefore, it’s possible that you are applying pesticides and herbicides when you apply cotton burr compost.
These unaccounted for pesticides can leach into the soil and waterways, impacting your local environment. And, residual herbicides can restrict plant growth.
If you’re looking for a store-bought source of organic matter to add to your lawn, cotton burr compost can do the trick. When you apply this type of compost to your grass, you’ll notice improved soil and therefore increased plant health and growth.
So, yes, cotton burr compost is generally good for lawns. But before you settle on this product, it’s a good idea to explore other types of compost and pick a type that’s best for you.