How to Make a Simple Compost Pile


Making your own compost can save you money, and you can be assured of its contents. After the initial setup of your compost pile, all you have to do is turn the pile periodically, which keeps it moist, and add organic waste from your yard and kitchen. Compost has many uses. It can be used as mulch or as an amendment to potting soil. It can also be mixed into the soil of vegetable gardens and flower beds. Compost can also be added to planting holes when planting new trees and shrubs.

Step 1

Decide if you are going to build your compost pile directly on the ground or if you are going to purchase a compost bin. For the average household, a 3-foot by 3-foot by 3 foot compost site or container is sufficient.

Step 2

Choose a composting site that is in a convenient location. If you are using a composting bin, place it in a convenient location.

Step 3

Place a large pile of dirt next to your compost site or bin.

Step 4

Place 2 feet of dead leaves or 12 inches of grass clippings in the compost bin or directly on the ground of your composting area. This will be the foundation of your compost.

Step 5

Add kitchen and garden waste as you accumulate it. Kitchen waste includes eggshells, potato skins, fruits and vegetables, shredded paper, paper towels, coffee grounds and tea bags. Do not put dairy products, meat products or greasy foods into your compost pile.

Step 6

Shovel a layer of dirt onto the compost when you have a good layer of kitchen and garden waste. Water your compost pile.

Step 7

Turn your compost pile with a pitchfork. Plan to turn your compost every 15 days.

Step 8

Continue to add kitchen and garden waste as it accumulates. When you have a good layer of waste, add a layer of dirt and water.

Step 9

Watch for your compost to turn dark brown. Allow the compost to mature six to eight weeks before use. Continue adding waste, dirt and water, and continue to turn the pile every 15 days.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add diseased or pest-infested garden waste to your compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost area or composting bin
  • Dirt
  • Grass clippings or dead leaves
  • Kitchen waste
  • Garden waste
  • Pitchfork
  • Shovel


  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: How to Make Compost
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Making Compost from Yard Waste

Who Can Help

  • Walter Reeves: How to Make a Simple Compost Bin
Keywords: make compost pile, making compost, simple compost pile

About this Author

Joyce Maxwell is a writer and editor for print and online markets. She pursued a Bachelor of Arts in English with a psychology minor at a southern university. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, as well as being picked up by health and education groups. Maxwell is a writer and title flagger for Demand Studios.