How to Use a Single Bin Compost System


Make use of your yard waste, including grass clippings and dead leaves, by composting them into a healthy soil amendment. Composting is the process that breaks down organic waste into nutrient-rich soil, suitable for use in garden beds and potting mixes. While many compost systems are on the market, a simple single bin system works well for many people. Maintaining and accessing the pile is simple and it requires very little care once it gets going.

Step 1

Place a 3-inch layer of twigs, small branches or corn stalks on the bottom of the bin if it doesn't have a slatted bottom. Providing aeration to the bottom of the pile speeds the composting process.

Step 2

Place approximately 8 inches of dead leaves, sawdust and kitchen vegetable waste in the bin. Top with a 3-inch layer of grass clippings and other green garden waste.

Step 3

Add a shovel-full of mature compost or garden soil on top of the yard waste. Mix it all together well, then spread out evenly in the bin.

Step 4

Water the compost as needed, usually after adding dry items such as leaves. Keep the compost moist but not soaking wet. Squeezing a handful should produce a few droplets of water. If not, water the pile.

Step 5

Turn the pile once a week, moving the compost on the outside to the center of the pile. Add more yard and kitchen waste as desired, turning each time.

Step 6

Use compost when everything is broken down in it, it crumbles in your hand, and it is a rich, earthy color. Use the contents all at once, or store in lidded garbage cans and begin refilling your bin.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not place meat, dairy or oily foods in the compost pile. These rot and cause bad odors and attract pests to your pile. Nitrogen in green garden waste and grass is necessary. Use nitrogen fertilizer if no green waste is available.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Twigs
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Soil
  • Shovel


  • Virginia Cooperative Extension
Keywords: single bin composting, soil amendments, how to compost

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.