How to Use Hardwoods for a Compost Pile


Hardwoods can be a carbon-rich addition to the compost pile. Any wood materials, especially hardwood materials, must be chopped or ground into very fine pieces to not disrupt or slow the composting process. Hardwood sawdust is ideal, though finely shredded or chipped hardwood will suffice. Wood should be added to the compost pile in equal parts with nitrogen-rich green and moist organic material to maintain the proper microbial processes and speed the breakdown of materials.

Step 1

Add fine hardwood shavings, dust or chips to the compost pile in layers up to 2 inches thick. Alternate layers of the hardwood and other carbon-rich brown organic material such as shredded newsprint, straw, dried garden cuttings with an equal volume of nitrogen-rich green organic materials.

Step 2

Layer in fresh, moist and nitrogen-rich green organic materials such green leaves, vegetable cuttings, green grass clippings, fruit peels, coffee and tea grounds, weeds, hair and excess vegetable crops such as squash. Always match the volume of nitrogen materials to carbon-rich materials.

Step 3

Water the layered compost pile over the top and sides to make it lightly moist but not soaking wet.

Step 4

Turn the pile once a week to speed the breakdown of materials and prevent foul odor from building up. Move top and side pile material to the center and move the center material up and out to the sides.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwood sawdust, chips or shavings
  • Green organic material
  • Garden fork
  • Water


  • University of Illinois
Keywords: hard wood shavings chips sawdust, carbon rich organic material, create add compost pile

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.