How to Compost Mulch


Commercially sold mulch is often made of pine needles, bark or cedar wood shavings. Although this mulch makes an attractive ground cover in beds and along pathways, the wood is also a good, carbon-filled ingredient for your compost pile. Compost piles need a good ratio of "browns" (carbon material) to "greens" (nitrogen-laden material) in order to break down quickly. The best ratio of brown material to green material is 1 part green matter to 6 parts brown organic substances. Because mulch is already in small pieces, it will decompose quickly.

Step 1

Select commercial mulch that has already been chopped or shredded into 1-inch pieces. Spread commercial pine needle mulch across the ground and mow it to further chop the needles into smaller particles.

Step 2

Pile commercial mulch onto the site of your compost pile to a depth of 12 inches.

Step 3

Cut vegetable scraps into 1-inch pieces with kitchen shears.

Step 4

Layer vegetable scraps, peat moss and lawn clippings to a depth of 2 inches on compost pile.

Step 5

Continue to pile alternating layers of mulch and vegetable scraps, peat moss and grass clippings into your pile until it reaches the desired height.

Step 6

Wet the compost pile until it is barely damp to the touch.

Step 7

Stir your compost pile with a garden pitchfork every 2 weeks.

Step 8

Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the pile is completely decomposed. The pile will shrink to ¼ it's original size and resemble black, crumbly soil when it is finished.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial mulch
  • Kitchen vegetable scraps
  • Kitchen shears
  • Grass clippings
  • Lawn mower
  • Peat moss
  • Garden pitchfork
  • Garden hose


  • Resource Conservation District Projects Using Mulch and Compost From Cities
  • Wood Chip Backyard Biology
  • Pine needles in the compost

Who Can Help

  • Compost with Wood Chips
Keywords: composting, composting with mulch, mulch in compost

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.