Horse Manure?

cakbu(9)August 2, 2014

I have lots..have 2 "factories" that keep putting out more and more! I have a large pile that is over a year old. How/should I use this in my ornamental garden? A landscaper told me not to use it because I would have lots of grass/weeds coming up which would mean lots of pulling. It seems like such a waste to not use it. It is not a formal compost pile and never has been turned...I don't have a tractor and don't have the desire or strength to hand turn it.

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I have 5 "factories" myself and I use the compost in all of my beds with great results. I don't do a lot of management either except it gets "turned" when I move it once a week from the trailer I dump the daily muck buckets into to the back corner of my farm where I pile it up.

I spread it in perennial beds, vegetable beds, foundation plantings a couple times a year 2-3 inches thick as if it were mulch. In places I want a neater appearance I cover it with another inch or so of pine bark fines/mulch. The old garden roses may get an additional treatment during the growing season. If I'm creating a new bed I'll dig in copious amounts into my native clay soil and let it sit a few months before planting.

Sometimes I'll use it aged and "well rotted" (as the old books say) sometimes only partially composted and on occasion I've thrown a shovel full fresh from the back end on some rose bushes. As long as you keep it from touching the stems it won't burn.

I have never had an issue with weeds.

One thing of concern is the small possibility of a persistent herbicide having been used on either your own pastures or on the hay you feed your horses. Regular 2,4-D (the most commonly used broadleaf weed killer) is not a problem. It's when it's mixed with aminopyralid, picloram and triclopyr that it is a problem.

You can figure out what if anything is used on your own pastures. If you're feeding your horses hay that has alfalfa or clover it is very unlikely these products would have been used on it (since it would kill these legumes.) If you are feeding a grass hay I've had good success just asking my hay supplier what herbicides were used on the hay. For locally grown hay if they don't know they can make a phone call to the grower. It has not been a big deal for me to figure it out.

If all else fails mix some into some soil and plant a few bean seeds and see if they are effected. I have found using my own horse manure compost well worth the extra trouble of checking it out!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Very basic persistent herbicide info:

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 12:43PM
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I've had a few issues with weeds using copious amounts of similarly 'composted' horse manure, some annual grasses pop up. I use a stirrup hoe - no big deal.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 4:27PM
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You may get "weeds" from animal manures but you get "weeds" from birds flying over, wild animals wandering through, and the wind blowing. If the manure is over a year old any "weed" seeds in the manure most likely will not germinate since they should have done so already, but some new ones may have collected on the piles from at least one of the above sources.
Put the manure in the planting bed and cover it with a mulch to help keep unwanted plant growth down.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:36AM
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sheet mulch with cardboard then no weeds....put the manure down first add sheets of cardboard on top and then put some mulch on top of cardboard.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:52PM
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Or newspaper, or about anything else that will block a plants access to the sunlight they need to grow. That will cut down on the number of "weeds" but will not eliminate all "weeds".

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:36AM
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If you manage your new material by turning piles once or twice while they cure for a few months, it will encourage weed seeds to germinate and be killed. If you could get some high school kids with shovels or a neighbor with a bucket loader, that would be easier...

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 12:06PM
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