How to Compost Garden Waste


Compost is a natural substance formed by the breakdown of other organic material such as food scraps or garden waste. It has an appearance and feel similar to soil, but is much richer in nutrients, which makes it a perfect natural fertilizer for plants. Compost can be made in your own yard without the need for special tools or equipment. In as little as six months, you can have several pounds of nutrient-rich compost made with materials from garden waste in your own backyard.

Step 1

Choose a spot to put your compost. The smell of compost can be unpleasant, so you may want to choose a spot that is at the edge of your property rather than right beside your home.

Step 2

Lay a 3-inch layer of straw, twigs or a combination of the two directly on the ground. This layer will promote drainage for excess water.

Step 3

Pile the compost materials on the straw and twigs. Alternate layers between moist and dry ingredients. Moist ingredients include any type of green garden waste. Dry ingredients include anything that feels dry to the touch such as dryer lint, grass clippings or wood shavings.

Step 4

Add a layer of manure to the top of the pile. Not only does it add more nutrients, but it speeds up the composting process.

Step 5

Spray the pile of compost with water until it is thoroughly moist, but not soggy and dripping with water.

Step 6

Cover the pile with a tarp. The cover will trap heat and moisture as well as help hide the smell.

Step 7

Turn the pile every three weeks with a pitchfork or shovel until the compost is ready. When it has a dry, crumbly texture, the compost is ready to use.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add meat to the compost as it may attract unwanted pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Straw
  • Twigs
  • Composting material
  • Manure
  • Water
  • Tarp
  • Pitchfork or shovel


  • Earth Easy: Composting
Keywords: compost food scraps, compost garden waste, start compost pile

About this Author

Kenneth Coppens is a part-time freelance writer and has been for one year. He currently writes for Demand Studios, eHow, Associated Content and is the Indianapolis Craft Beer Expert for Examiner.