How to use horse manure on flower beds

Updated July 19, 2017

Manure is one of the oldest fertilisers in existence. It's a natural alternative to pricey store-bought fertilisers. Create a master plan for your garden before you start fiddling around with compost, mulch and manure. The master plan can be as simple as loosen soil, compost manure, spread manure and plant, and it can be as complicated as layer of cardboard, followed by composted table scraps, then manure, topped with grass clippings from the previous year and finally, a layer of top soil. Experiment with different fertilisers to create the healthiest plants possible. Ultimately, horse manure is a great fertiliser for any garden.

Find a source of manure. Many gardening stores carry manure. Local horse barns are usually receptive to gardeners making good use of the manure in their manure pile. Some even advertise free manure in local newspapers. Contacting a barn means that you will have to shovel and transport it yourself. Use garbage bags, a truck bed or storage tubs to transport the manure. Find the manure in the fall and compost it over the winter. In the end, the goal is to spread the manure just before you plant.

Create compost with the manure by adding vegetative matter such as table scraps, leaves, needles or grass cuttings. If it's significantly mature manure---over six months---then skip this step.

Prepare your flower beds for the manure. If you are creating a raised bed, then build the borders. If the soil is hard, then till the soil with a rotary tiller. If you plan on a lasagne-style fertilisation, then spread the lower layers.

Spread the manure onto your flower beds roughly 1 to 5 inches deep by using a manure spreader on a tractor or by using a shovel.

Add any other layers such as mulch or top soil. Skip this step if you plan on planting directly into the manure.

Plant your flowers. Composted or aged manure requires no delay. If you used neither, wait four to six weeks before planting. The manure loses its potency by waiting, but it's necessary, as fresh manure burns plants and roots.


You may wish to use manure in a lasagne-style flower bed with other layers such as leaves, mulch and even cardboard to produce optimum results. Gather manure from the back of the manure pile. It's older and ready to use.


The downside to the free fertiliser is the "hotness" of horse manure. Fresh horse manure can burn the plant and its roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Manure
  • Leaf or grass clippings
  • Shovel
  • Garbage bags/truck bed
  • Seeds
  • Flower beds
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