How to Create a Compost Bed


Compost is a natural fertilizer. Worms, grubs, bacteria and microorganisms work together to turn yard waste and food scraps into a nutrient-rich soil additive. Create a compost bed to make use of natural forces for a never-ending supply of "black gold."

Step 1

Lay the landscaping fabric down where you want your compost bed. Line the edges of the fabric with the railroad ties, to create a square bed on the ground.

Step 2

Fill the bed half an inch deep with shredded paper, newspaper or corrugated cardboard. Because this material isn't living, it's called a "brown layer."

Step 3

Add a "green layer" of food scraps, lawn clippings, or other green waste. Only fruit and vegetable waste should be used; meat and dairy products, as well as greases and oils, don't compost well and can attract rats and create a foul odor.

Step 4

Continue layering dead and live materials until you reach the top of your compost bed. The final layer should be organic soil, followed by a light spritzing of water.

Step 5

Leave the compost alone for eight to twelve weeks, or cover with black plastic and leave for four to six weeks.

Step 6

Scoop out the black soil after it's composted and sift through a wire mesh screen to preserve large things that still need more time to compost. Return any non-composted materials back into the bin and use the rest in your garden as topsoil or to supplement potting soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never add meat, bone or fat to your compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 Railroad ties, or other edging material
  • Corrugated cardboard boxes
  • Organic garden soil
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Some yard waste
  • Landscaping fabric 8 feet by 8 feet square


  • Starting a Sheet Compost Bed
  • Composting with Worms
  • Worm Compost
Keywords: create a compost, compost bed, compost pile

About this Author

Lisa Russell is an entrepreneur and writer from Washington State, with a professional background in education, cosmetology and the restaurant industry. She's been published in regional parenting publications, homeschooling publications and has published over 10,000 articles online since 1999. She studied Early Childhood Education at Antelope Valley College.