Backyard Composting

A backyard compost is perfect for any household with a yard. It is a simple method that requires little effort and few materials.

How to Backyard Compost

There are several ways of composting including: placing materials in open piles, burying materials in trenches or enclosing materials in bins. It is important to remember that in order to heat up properly, compost piles should be at least one cubic yard in size.

The Six Easy Steps of Backyard Composting:

  1. Obtain a Bin - Compost bins can either be homemade or purchased. Check with your local compost retailer for a variety of compost bins and other environmentally friendly lawn and garden supplies. 
  2. Gather Your Materials - Waste is classified as either brown or green material. To begin, use equal amounts of green and brown materials and chop them into 1-inch pieces (the smaller the pieces, the faster they decompose). Click here for a full list of acceptable types of compost material.
  3. Disperse Your Materials Evenly Into A Compost Bin - Start with approximately 1 cubic yard of yard waste materials. Shred yard waste to less that 1″ in size (the smaller the better). Use equal amounts of green and brown materials and mix thoroughly. Add water (about the consistency of a wrung out sponge).
  4. Turn or Stir Your Compost Every 7 to 10 Days - Stir the bin and add more water every 7 to 10 days. Remember to keep the bin full by adding fresh material regularly.
  5. Keep Your Compost Hot - Keep your compost between 120 to 140 degrees. This helps the materials to break down properly.

  6. Harvest Your Compost - Your compost is ready to use when it’s dark brown, crumbly and smells like fresh-turned earth, generally within 2-6 months. You also should not be able to identify anything that was used to make it. To harvest your compost, remove the finished compost from the bottom of the bin (the finished material naturally collects there) and screen it using a simple 3/8″ size screen.

Solving Composting Problems

Compost Smells Bad: Turn your compost and add fresh brown materials.
Compost Pile Not Getting Hot: Compost may need more green material or water. Also, make sure you have enough material in the bin (a cubic yard is recommended).
Bugs in the Compost Bin: This is normal, but watch for spiders.
Mold Growing on the Compost: This is natural. Mix the compost and water thoroughly.