How To Use Horse Manure In Your Garden

Horse manure is packed full of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms that make it an excellent natural fertilizer for the garden.

You can dig the composted manure into the soil, use it as a mulch, or spread it on your lawn to enrich the soil.

Horse manure is rich is nitrogen so it’s especially beneficial for nitrogen loving plants including leafy green vegetables, garlic, brussels sprouts and rhubarb.

You’ll see a big difference in the growth and health of your plants after the addition of horse manure.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read the disclosure for more info.

horse manure

Can I use fresh horse manure on my garden?

Fresh manure from horses should not be used directly on your garden beds, especially not on vegetable gardens because of the presence of pathogenic bacteria.

Adding fresh horse manure to your garden will add a lot of nutrients but also carry bacteria and weed seeds with it, which can cause damage to your garden in the long run.

The best way to use horse manure is to compost it first before using it on your garden.

Composting is the natural process where decaying organic matter breaks down into rich humus.

The humus can then be used as fertilizer to enrich your garden beds.

composting horse manure

How to compost horse manure

To compost horse manure, pile up the manure and let it sit for at least 3 to 4 months until it starts to decompose and become softer.

You can add other types of compostable materials to the pile including coffee grounds, newspaper, grass clippings and vegetable scraps.

Anything that you would put in a standard compost pile will be a good addition to your horse manure composting process.

Turn the pile every week and keep it relatively moist to speed up the decomposition process.

The compost heap should heat up to at least 176°F (80°C) and stay at that temperature for a couple of weeks.

You can use a soil thermometer to check the temperature of your compost pile.

The heat produced during the composting process will get rid of most of the weed seeds as well as any harmful bacteria that may be present in the manure.

The longer it sits, the better quality the compost will be.

The compost can then be used as a mulch around your plants to enrich the soil, added to raised garden beds or dug into your garden beds before planting.

growing lettuce

Can horse manure be used on flowering plants?

Horse manure is rich is nitrogen but low in phosphorus and potassium, which means it’s not a good fertilizer choice for flowering plants like roses, tomatoes, peppers and other plants that produce flowers.

You can use horse manure to enrich the soil around your flowering plants but you’ll need to combine it with a high phosphorus or potassium source such as bone meal, dry molasses or fish emulsion.

Where to get horse manure

If you have horses on your ranch or farm, then you have plenty of fresh horse manure available every day.

You can also buy horse manure from local stables, riding schools or horse breeders.

How much horse manure do I need?

The amount of horse manure needed will depend on how much compost you want to make, as well as the size of the area that you are going to fertilize.

The general rule is that you need about 20 lbs (9 kg) of horse manure for every cubic yard (about 1 m³).

raking manure into soil

Does composted horse manure smell?

After the composting process is complete there will be no smell so you can use it on your gardens without having to worry about offensive odors.


So there are my tips for using horse manure in the garden.

Composted horse manure is an excellent source of slow-release soil nutrients for your garden.

Have you tried using horse manure to fertilize your garden? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Garden Ideas and Gardening Tips that you may find helpful. You can also find me on Facebook.

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Tim

    Hello Kelly;

    I have a neighbor who is able to provide fresh horse manure. I have a 30’x 40’ garden just cleared out of this years crops. The thought is to spread several inches of horse manure, followed by preen and then about 4” of recently ground hardwood from a chipper.
    will this approach yield good soil next spring?

Leave a Reply