How to Make Easy Compost


Composting enriches the soil, enhances organic gardening and enables gardeners to increase the yield of their crops while spending less money on fertilizers and commercial soil enrichment materials. For all the work compost does, it's surprisingly easy to make. All you need is a place to contain it. Most of the ingredients for compost are available in your house and yard.

Step 1

Buy or build a compost bin. You can spend up to several hundred dollars for a commercial compost bin, or you can build one yourself for much less money using chicken wire, wood planks or plastic fencing. All you need is a place to contain the compost and prevent it from blowing around the yard; you might also want to hide the compost as it decomposes.

Step 2

Layer "green" and "brown" waste materials in your compost bin. Green materials include grass clippings, dead plants or plants you've thinned out of the garden, and kitchen scraps such as apple cores, vegetable waste, grapefruit rinds, banana peels, coffee grounds (filter and all), and tea bags. Brown materials include dead leaves, twigs, cardboard, egg cartons, paper towel rolls and office paper. Your compost will decompose more quickly if you chop larger items into pieces, such as big sections of cardboard. Use approximately the same amount of green and brown materials.

Step 3

Apply activators and water. Although not absolutely necessary, your compost will be created more quickly if you add an activator. Activators include dried blood, lime, ammonium sulfate, compost or soil, poultry manure and urine. You can also purchase commercial activators. It's very important to keep your compost well-watered. When you grab a handful of compost, you should be able to squeeze a little water out.

Step 4

Turn your compost with a shovel or pitchfork every two weeks or so. During hot weather, your materials will decompose and become compost within three months or so.

Step 5

Apply the compost to your plants. Scoop the compost from the bottom of the heap: that's where the richest stuff is found. Apply 2 to 4 inches around your plants. You don't need to till it into the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • There are a few things you should not add to your compost pile. Don't add meat or dairy products, and don't add dog or cat feces. These can all contain pathogens which could contaminate your fruits or vegetables. Also, don't add weeds to the compost pile, because the seeds will turn up in the finished compost and may regrow in your garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Green material
  • Brown material
  • Water
  • Activators
  • Pitchfork or shovel
  • Tarp (optional)


  • "Compost"; Kenneth Thompson; 2007
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Composting
Keywords: organic gardening, composting, making compost

About this Author

Janet Clark has worked as a professional writer for nine years. She has had more than 400 articles published. Her work has appeared in The Iowan, Iowa Gardening, Friends Journal,The Des Moines Register, Today Magazine, Fort Dodge Business Review,The Messenger, and She has also written a novel, Blind Faith. Clark has received several awards from the Iowa Press Women for her work.