Tips on Composting

Composting is an excellent way to reduce the amount of garbage produced in your home, while also allowing you to create rich, fertile loam enhancements--often referred to as black gold--to your lawn and garden soil. Compost made quickly involves a bit more time and effort on your part, because the mixture must be turned regularly so the decomposition process can be sped up. A no work method also exists though, where you simply add the appropriate ingredients to your compost pile and let nature take its course on her own schedule. With either method all you need is organic material that already exists around your home.

Lawn Waste

Lawn and garden waste are what most people think of when they think about composting. Since everything in the lawn and garden is organic, it can all be added to your compost bin. Lawn waste can include grass clippings, dry leaves, small branches and dead flowers; flower gardens yield trimmed or pruned flower stems and dead plants; and vegetable gardens are a rich source of organic material in the form of pulled weeds, thinned vegetable seedlings or rotten fruit and vegetables for composting.

Kitchen Waste

The kitchen is the second best place to find material for your composting efforts, because so much of the food we prepare for cooking or eat raw has left over organic material that's usually thrown in the trash. When you make a basic salad for example, instead of throwing away the lettuce head heart and tomato ends, add those to the compost bin. When you clean out the refrigerator, add rotting fruit and vegetables to the composting pile as well. One other prized compost addition exists in the kitchen: coffee and tea grounds. If you regularly drink either coffee or tea, don't throw away the used grounds, filters and bags. Add these--filters and bags included--to the compost bin instead. Worms love coffee and tea grounds, and when you get worms in your compost bin you'll have finished compost much faster that without them.


Standard paper from a wide variety of sources can be shredded or torn up and added to your composting pile too. This includes black and white newspaper, junk mail, scratch pads and shopping lists--any paper that is not treated with a glossy print can be added to the compost pile.


Many people avoid starting a compost pile because they're worried about having a smelly mess in their backyard. Stinky compost bins can happen, and this can be a problem in populated areas where the neighbors may complain. Smell problems are also why most people warn you to not add meat, cooked foods, fat or dairy products to the compost pile. These types of foods--while organic--can create an awful stench while they're decomposing. The trick to keeping your compost bin from smelling is to be sure you've added enough "brown," or carbon, material to the mix. Carbon materials include paper, dry leaves, sawdust, hay and straw. If you find your composting pile starting to smell, add extra paper or leaves to neutralize it.

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About this Author

Kathy Burns-Millyard has been a Web designer, developer, Internet consultant, photographer and prolific professional writer since 1997. Specializing in business, technology, environmental and health topics, her work has appeared in "Wireless Week" magazine, "Entrepreneur" magazine, "Computer User" magazine, and in hundreds of publications around the Web.