Composting

Asked May 20, 2020, 1:09 PM EDT

I have had a large tree root ground down . Is there anything I can do to hasten the decomposition of the sawdust?

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

Hi - If you intend to replant in the area this year, try to remove some of the sawdust and turn in some good-quality top soil. The newly turned and amended soil should sit slightly higher than the rest of the lawn or garden because this area will eventually sink a bit as the wood material decomposes. Generally it is advised to wait about a year for the decomposition and subsidence to take place, and then replant. For this season, you could put in shallow-rooted annuals and then put in more permanent plants (tree or shrub) after waiting a year.

The remaining sawdust will add texture and some nutrients as it decomposes, but it will also leach nitrogen and change the pH of the soil. If you do plant annuals or lawn over the area, you should consider adding nitrogen fertilizer to the area. Refer to the lawn fertilizing information on our website for guidance.

Since the process of decomposition changes the soil pH and nutrient profile of the surrounding soil, we recommend testing your soil (in a year or so). https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing

Christa