How to Start a Compost Pile in Winter


Comprised of decomposed plant and organic matter, compost provides nourishment to garden soil. Composting creates black, nutrient-rich soil regardless of your growing region and enables you to grow a variety of plants that otherwise don't thrive in your area. Starting a compost pile during the winter allows for the organic materials to thoroughly decompose before being added to the soil. No heat is needed during the wintertime, as the decomposing plant matter creates its own heat within the pile. A simplistic and environmentally friendly process, starting a compost pile requires little work.

Step 1

Locate a spot in your yard that is shielded from wind and harsh elements. Choose a spot far from your yard if you're concerned with odors.

Step 2

Chop at the ground with your shovel, breaking apart the earth in a 4-foot-by-4-foot area. If the ground is frozen, bypass this step and add about 6 inches of sand to the area. The sand makes a base for the compost.

Step 3

Pile as much kitchen and botanical waste as you can in the area. Kitchen waste should include plant material, egg shells and tea or coffee grounds. Dead plants and grass clippings provide extra botanical matter for the pile.

Step 4

Cover the pile with a heavy plastic tarp and weigh down the corners with cinder blocks to keep it anchored. This not only keeps the compost pile shielded from wind and harsh elements, but it aids in keeping the warmth of the decomposing plants within the tarp.

Step 5

Add kitchen waste to the pile daily or weekly during the wintertime to add to the compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Heavy black garden tarp
  • 4 cinder blocks
  • Kitchen waste
  • Plant waste


  • Environmental Protection Agency: Compost
Keywords: composting diy, winter compost cycle, organic gardening

About this Author

Chelsea Hoffman is a professional freelance writer with works published both on the Web and in print. She currently resides in Las Vegas. The author of the new series of horror novellas, titled "Fear Chronicles," Hoffman's work can also be found on environmental websites like, where she helps spread environmental awareness with her mighty pen.