I have an established perenial bed that has been a little neglegted for the last few years. I'd like to try and improve the soil quality with some compost before things really get going in the bed. Things are already starting to show some growth as its been a warm winter. I am concerned however that composting around established plantings may harm them. Is this a valid concern? If so then how do you go about improving soil quality in established beds?
If you use well aged compost, then you have nothing to fear about adding compost around established perennials. If you use compost which has not had a chance to age properly, then it may be a concern. Especially manures which did not compost properly, or diseased plants which also did not have time to break down could be a problem. Generally, if compost has no "recognizable" parts anylonger, you can successfully compost it. I add compost to my beds if it is 9-12 months old.