Beginner’s Guide to Backyard composting

red and white flowers on brown wooden fence
Photo by Eva Elijas on

Backyard composting is the process of using the organic waste material that is currently in your garden and yard and converting it into compost. Compost can then be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes. It serves the purpose of both turning kitchen scraps into fertilizer and as a soil amendment. You can also use it for plants, lawns, gardens, flower beds, and even your pond!

So, you want to know what exactly is compost.

Compost is organic material that you can add to the soil to help those lovely plants grow. Together, yard waste and food scraps currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away and could be instead composted. Making compost keeps these elements out of landfills, where they take up space and discharge methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

All composting requires three basic ingredients:

  • Greens: This includes vegetable waste, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and fruit scraps.
  • Browns: This includes materials such as branches, dead leaves, and twigs.
  • Water: Having the correct amount of water, browns, and greens are important for compost improvement.

How to Compost at Home

There are many complex ways to make a compost pile; we have provided this article for general reference. Helpful tools include:

  • Square-point machetes or shovels.
  • Pitchforks.
  • Water hoses with a long spray head.

Turning of the compost or regular mixing and changing some water will help maintain the compost.

Backyard Composting

  • Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
  • Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
  • Moisten dry materials as they are added.
  • Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
  • Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.

Indoor Composting

If you do not have space for an outdoor compost pile, you can compost materials indoors using a special type of bin, which you can buy at a local hardware store, gardening supplies store, or make yourself. Remember to tend your pile and keep track of what you throw in. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. Your compost should be ready in two to five weeks.

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