How to Compost Wood

Overview

Compost is beneficial to any landscape. Used as a soil amendment, compost adds valuable plant nutrients to the soil, improves soil structure and increases water holding capacity. Yardwork often results in an abundance of wood in the form of branches and twigs, old wood chips and stumps. Rather than sending these materials to a landfill, incorporate them into a compost pile and reap the rewards of decomposition.

Step 1

Use a wood chipper to make wood pieces as small as possible to speed up decay. Wood products decompose slowly and large pieces of wood will take a long time to break down in most cases.

Step 2

Add organic material to the wood in layers to aid in decay. Use cow manure, mushroom compost, kitchen scraps and other materials to encourage microbial activities within the compost pile. Other yard waste, such as lawn clippings and leaves, may also be used. Waste particles of various size and composition are recommended for best results.

Step 3

Moisten the compost pile with water. Ohio State University recommends keeping the compost pile “about as moist as a wrung-out sponge.”

Step 4

Turn the compost pile after three to four weeks, or more often for faster decomposing. Depending on the size of the compost pile and its constituents, the compost should be ready to use in three to four months. Ohio State University recommends checking the internal temperature regularly, and turning the pile when temperatures within the pile decrease.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood chipper
  • Organic waste materials
  • Pitchfork

References

  • Ohio State University Extension: Composting at Home

Who Can Help

  • University of Maine Extension: How Compost Happens
Keywords: wood composting, landscape composting, how to compost

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."