How to Use a Compost Starter


Compost starter is marketed as a helpful tool in jump starting the composting process. Starters come in a variety of commercial formulations but all essentially use bacteria to stoke the microbial processes that break down the green and brown composted materials. While there is debate on the necessity of compost starters, they can be useful if you are unable to start your compost pile with the optimal 50-50 balance between green and brown organic material.

Step 1

Establish the compost pile layering green organic materials such as grass and vegetable clippings with brown organic material such as dried leaves. Alternate the materials in 1- to 2-inch layers.

Step 2

Sprinkle the compost starter over the top of the layered pile in the amount recommended on the package label.

Step 3

Water the pile lightly to make the materials moist but not soaking wet.

Step 4

Lay down a final layer over the top of the moist pile made of 2 to 3 inches of finished compost, well-aged manure or garden soil that has not been treated with pesticides.

Step 5

Wait three to five days, or the number of days recommended on the compost starter label, and turn the compost pile with a large garden fork to mix the starter into the pile and speed the microbial processes.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost starter
  • Brown organic material
  • Green organic material
  • Water
  • Finished compost, aged manure or garden soil
  • Turning fork


  • Colorado State University
  • University of Illinois
  • Texas A&M University
Keywords: garden compost starter, create compost pile, green brown organic material

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.