Composting helps your yard and the environment by recycling common household scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer or mulch. You can work compost into your home’s landscaping beds every spring to give annuals and perennials a quick, natural boost. Compost is also the perfect ingredient for vegetable gardens to give plants essential nutrients.
Product costs, availability and item numbers may vary online or by market.
Missing anything? Shop Online
Select an area for your compost pile or bin. Look for a spot that gets a lot of sunlight and has nearby access to water. Make sure the location is close to the house for convenience, but not so close that decaying organics can be smelled inside.
Build or purchase compost bins. A small fenced area with no bottom allows worms and other beneficial organisms from the earth to work and aerate the compost.
Bins, with or without a bottom, can be made with wood to contain the compost.
Ready-to-use compost bins can be purchased and quickly put to work. They keep the pile contained and looking neat, while protecting the compost from weather and animals.
Start your compost pile by lining the bottom of the fenced area or bin with straw or other dry organic material.
Consider setting up two compost areas: one that is being added to and one that is ready for use as fertilizer.
Efficient decomposition requires nitrogen (kitchen scraps), carbon (yard waste), oxygen (air) and water.
Collect kitchen and household scraps for the compost pile in an airtight container with a carbon-charcoal filter container to collect household scraps. For more efficient composting, cut large scraps into smaller pieces.
Useful items to save include:
When the collection container is nearly full, empty the scraps to the compost bin or pile.
Add a layer of leaves, grass clippings, and/or weeds from your yard. If not available, add straw.
Moisten and mix the compost pile every few weeks. Water the pile, then use a pitchfork or shovel to turn the compost so that oxygen reaches all ingredients to encourage decomposition.
Adjust the proportion of compost ingredients by odor. The compost should have a good earthy smell. If the compost has an ammonia odor, add more carbon materials such as leaves and newspaper. If the compost smells foul, it is probably too wet and needs more dry materials such as leaves or straw.
Allow the compost materials to decompose before use. It should feel crumbly, look dark, and smell earthy. The process typically takes a few months, depending on ingredients.
Do not compost meat, bones, fat, grease, dairy products or pet waste.
Do not use compost before it’s ready — the decomposing ingredients can attract pests.
To make sure there is sufficient moisture, examine a clump of the material. It should be damp, but not soggy and drippy.