An Easy Guide to Composting

Composting your vegetative refuse is a smart thing you can do for a variety of reasons.

If you want to understand composting, it's important to know what it's made of and the different types available. Composting is basically the natural process of reusing and recycling decomposed organic materials and forming them into a rich soil that is known as compost.


Anything that once had life will eventually decompose. Backyard composting, which is one of the most common forms, uses the same process as nature. By composting your organic waste products, you're putting essential nutrients back into the earth so that the cycle of life continues. 


The 3 Types of Composting

There are three basic types of composting: backyard composting, worm composting, and grasscycling. You can learn more about the different types of composting by visiting the website for the U.S. Composting Council


Backyard composting is the most common type of composting among homeowners mainly because it's easily-accessible. Almost any size yard is big enough for composting. If you have a backyard with plenty of trees, then you already have everything you'll need to create some backyard compost. All you need to create this type of compost is "browns," which include fallen leaves or straw, and "greens," which can include food scraps or grass clippings. 


Backyard compost bins


Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting is ideal for homeowners who have a small yard or those who live in an apartment building that still want to reap from the benefits of composting. If you have large amount of food scraps then you have all that you need in order to take part in this type of composting. 


Garden compost heap with kitchen food waste, vegetables, fruit peel and green refuse


Grasscycling is almost the opposite of composting. If you have a large amount of grass clippings after mowing and do not want to use the with your compost pile, you can simply pile them up on your lawn to decompose naturally. 


On the green lawn rake collect grass clippings


Reasons Why You Should Compost

There are several good reasons why homeowners should compost. If you have a major problem with pests such as rats or insects either inside or outside your home then you will be able to greatly reduce your pest problems by composting. You will also reduce your use of pesticides in and around your home making it safer for your family members and your pets. has an article on the many benefits of composting here in the US that can help you learn more and educate others on why composting is so important. 


Female gardener composting grass in garden


Compost provides your soil with a good balanced source of nutrients that help it to hold in this valuable nutrition for a longer period of time. The longer the soil is able to hold onto nutrients the better off your growing plants will be. 
Composing at home is a great way to teach your children and grandchildren about nature and the cycle of life. It is also a great way to for them to help out with chores around the home. 


Cute young boy holding compost container show environmental responsibility


You can save money on costly soil care products and bagged manure by composting. In addition, by adding decomposed organic materials back into your soil you will be feeding your soil beneficial organisms. 


What Items Can Be Used for Composting?

There are many different items that can be used with a standard composting system at home. If you are interested in using green material, you can go with anything from food scraps including fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds and tea leaves, plant trimmings, leaves and foliage and grass clippings such as fresh mulch from mowing the lawn. For best results it is recommended that you use grass clippings from grass that does not contain any pesticides. 


Compost heap with grass and apples on an allotment site


Organic material can also be used for composting and can be very beneficial to your soil because it is so rich in carbon. Some organic materials that you can use include dry fallen leaves in the backyard, old newspapers, cardboard and brown paper that has been shredded or cut into smaller pieces. These should be used sparingly but can be useful when you need to add more bulk to your composting. You can also use dry grass clippings, and straw, which is a great source of carbon. 


Dry tree leaves in a garden compost


Easy Steps for Composting Using a Standard System

It is easy to start a composting station in your very own backyard. All you have to do is choose a flat sunny spot that offers plenty of drainage and is easy to get to when you need to get rid of waste. Create a 12 inch base layer inside your bin by using woody brush material or straw that can help to promote good air circulation. 


Compost bin in the garden


For best results, you will want to layer your green and organic materials. When it comes time to add food scraps to your compost, make a new layer and then top it off with organic material. Then every two weeks, you should mix up the contents of the bin. This will allow the compost to aerate and get the bin heated up so that it can begin to decompose the contents that are inside. 


Over time your pile will start to shrink. You should continue to add new layers to it until the bit is completely filled up. The compost should be harvested every six months. The bottom and center should be fully decomposed by this time and full of moist areas that will be ideal for worms to live in. If your soil has large chunks inside, you should sift it using a mesh screen for best results. 


Compost bin in the garden. Composting pile of rotting kitchen fruits and vegetable scraps


Composting is a great way to make use of the things that would normally be thrown away or taken to a landfill, taking up space until it naturally decomposes. By taking the necessary steps to create your own composting material, you will save yourself time and money while also teaching your younger family members more about the importance of conserving materials and saving the environment at the same time. For more facts on how to get started with composting, check out the Natural Resources Conservation Service section of the USDA website.

Images used with permission, courtesy of and

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