How to Make a Good Compost Pile


Composting is the taking of organic materials and decomposing them at a faster rate. Composting turns the organic materials in to a dark brown mulch that you can spread over lawns, flower gardens and vegetable gardens. The compost adds nutrients to the soil the same way a store-bought fertilizer does. You can make your own compost pile at home, and recycle fallen leaves and kitchen scraps.

Step 1

Choose a location for your compost pile. It should be in a warm spot that is sheltered from strong winds. You can also purchase a compost bin or compost barrel.

Step 2

Place a 6-inch layer of organic materials in the bottom of your compost pile. These materials may include kitchen scraps, grass clippings, piles of leaves and shredded paper.

Step 3

Water the first layer of organic materials until the pile is completely wet.

Step 4

Add a 2-inch layer of manure to your compost pile. This may be cow, horse, pig or chicken manure. You can use one type of manure, or a combination of manures.

Step 5

Water the second layer of compost until it is completely wet.

Step 6

Shovel a 2-inch layer of soil on top of the layer of manure.

Step 7

Water the layer of soil until completely wet.

Step 8

Repeat the layering in the same order until your compost bin or barrel is almost full. Water each layer.

Step 9

Turn the layers in your compost bin with a shovel once a week. Add water to your compost bin each week so that the materials stay moist. After your compost is dark in color and crumbles when you pick up a clump of it. This can take six weeks or up to three months, depending on how large your compost bin is, and how often you turn it.

Tips and Warnings

  • Compost bins emit a strong odor. Do not set them up near a neighbor's yard or you are bound to get complaints. The compost will shrink as it decomposes. Don't be surprised if your pile ends up being half as tall as it was when you created it.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin or barrel
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Manure
  • Soil
  • Shovel


  • University of Missouri Extension: Making and Using Compost
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: How to Make Compost
Keywords: compost for beginners, making compost, recycling kitchen scraps

About this Author

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for six years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Associated Content and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the current cooking guru for LifeTips. She has received awards for being a top content producer.