How to Make a Compost Spreader

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You can adapt an old wheelbarrow for spreading compost.
You can adapt an old wheelbarrow for spreading compost. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Compost can be hard to spread -- it's heavy when damp and can stay in clumps even when it's dry. Dumping piles of compost from a wheelbarrow and raking them out by hand can take a long time. Using a compost spreader makes the job easier, but commercially available spreaders can be costly. If you're on a budget, you can find a middle ground by adapting an old wheelbarrow to dump compost more evenly in your garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Old wheelbarrow
  • Measuring tape
  • Black marker
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Jigsaw with metal-cutting blade
  • Pliers
  • Shovel
  • Helper
  • Rake or push broom

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Measure out a flap at the front end of the wheelbarrow, where the sides meet the bottom. Mark a section that's 2 or 3 inches high and runs from side to side across the front.

Put on your heavy work gloves and eye protection. Cut along the top and sides of the flap you marked, using your jigsaw and metal-cutting blade. Don't cut across the bottom part of the flap.

Bend the cut edges toward the outside of the wheelbarrow, using your gloved hands or pliers, so that you don't cut yourself on the metal when using the compost spreader. You now have an opening for the compost to fall through.

Load the wheelbarrow with compost, using a shovel. Lift up the handles and pull the spreader behind you as you walk through the garden at a steady pace. The compost will be evenly deposited as you walk; don't shake the wheelbarrow side to side.

Have a helper push the compost through the wheelbarrow's opening with a push broom or rake as you walk along if the material is still too clumpy to be easily deposited.

Tips & Warnings

  • Look for an old wheelbarrow at a garage sale or the dump, or ask your friends and neighbors if they have one.
  • Operate power tools with caution.
  • Wear eye protection and be careful when cutting the hole in the wheelbarrow so you don't cut your hands with the saw or on the sharp metal.
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