Author – Lucas James is a ranch owner in rural Canada, and owns a horse boarding facility. He
also runs a horse magazine called The Horse Dispatch. The magazine has a large database of
horse information, articles, and product guides. He also has a biology degree and is an expert
when it comes to the biology of horses.
In the spring people start planting their gardens, and begin to think about their lawns and grass.
Usually they think about water, mowing and spraying weeds.
This is also the time at which many people start thinking about fertilizer and feeding the soil for
whatever is it that they are going to plant?
The Thing about Gardens
One of the main problems that gardners have is trying to make sure that the soil retains it’s
required nutrient level.
The main issue is nitrogen, there are other things that the soil needs in order to be ready for
plant growth, but that is one of the main ingredients.
One of the best ways to replenish the soil with what it needs is to use compost or decaying
material. Horse manure is ideal composting material and it can be used as an organic
fertilizer to super-charge your garden and even your yard.
Horse Manure for Gardens
Horse manure is a great source of nutrients and a great choice when it comes to adding
compost to your garden. Horse manure is a great fertilizer, it is usually readily available in most
rural areas, and from experience I can tell you that horse barns are looking to get rid of it.
Horse manure is higher in nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium so it will work really well for
plants that don’t flower. If your garden is full of corn, potatoes, garlic and lettuce it will be the
perfect environment for horse manure.
You will not want to use it on things like tomatoes and peppers, unless you add in additional
organic material that does have other nutrients in it.
Horse Manure for Yards and Grass
Horse manure works great for grass. I mean think about it…horses literally eat grass, so when
they poop it’s like they are returning nature to itself. Horses and grass have a biological
In order to get the horse manure onto your yard you will need some kind of spreading device.
We have found that a push spreader can sometimes get full and plugged up, especially if the
material is too wet or clumped together.
The best tools for the job are still a shovel and a rake, especially for a small yard.
How to Handle Horse Manure
I run a boarding facility in rural Alberta. The horses there produce about a yard of manure every
single day. That’s around 1500 pounds. This manure is taken from the barn and placed in a
pile with other manure from previous days.
Here is the trick for using it in your garden and in your yard. The manure needs to be aged. It
can’t be fresh, if it is too fresh the manure will cook your plants and burn your roots.
Horse manure has to be “cooked” in a compost for at least 3-4 months before it can be used on
the garden. So the best thing is to get it in the fall, put it in your back yard compost and then it
will be ready for the spring.
Pro tip – The composting process can be expedited by adding oxygen to the compost. So
during the winter composting try to turn and “rustle up” the compost will help it compost faster.
How is Horse Manure Different than Cow Manure
Horse manure and cow manure are different because cow manure has less nitrogen in it. Even
though too much nitrogen can give you less fruit and flowers, cow manure can present a good
balance of material for your garden. It really depends on the nitrogen level in your soil.
Plant eaters vs Meat-eaters for Compost
Our recommendation is don’t use any meat eating animal manure as compost. Not even indoor
pets like dogs and cats, you should not put their poop into your compost that you are going to
use on your plants and gardens.
Can other Material be added to the Horse Manure Compost?
Yes other organic material can be added to the manure compost. Each material has it’s own
benefit and “cooking” time that you will need to take into consideration, but you can, and should,
add additional organic material to the compost.
Which Plants Like Horse Manure?
Horse manure is “hot” which means it’s literally warm to touch, but also full of nitrogen. This is
great for plants that do not flower, or fruit. It is also great for soils that use a lot of nitrogen in the
plants that they host.
Some plants like corn, potatoes and garlic are nitrogen heavy, and work really well with high
nitrogen soils. They also take a lot of the nitrogen out of the soil, so each year you will need to
replace the nitrogen.