How to Compost Waste


Composting is a great way to get rid of your waste and help the environment at the same time. It is also an inexpensive way to provide valuable nutrients to your garden and plants. Backyard composting can be done in a very small area, even in a trash can drilled with holes, or in a large garden as a loose pile surrounded by wire. No matter how much waste you produce, it's almost impossible to create too much compost, since it's always in demand by gardeners.

Step 1

Place a layer of coarse, brown yard waste, such as twigs, small branches, wood chips or dead leaves in the bottom of the compost bin. The layer should be between 2 and 4 inches thick. Avoid using branches or materials that are too large and may take too long to break down. If you have large pieces to compost, consider chipping or mulching them first.

Step 2

Add a layer of fresh waste materials, such as vegetable scraps from the kitchen, grass cuttings or green yard cuttings. Make the layer equal in depth to the first layer, unless it is made up of only grass cuttings. For grass cuttings, or very fine yard waste that can become heavy and matted when moist, make the layer no thicker than 2 inches.

Step 3

Continue alternating layers of brown waste materials with green waste materials until you have several layers or have used up the waste.

Step 4

Add water until the compost is moist, but not soaking wet.

Step 5

Wait about a week, checking the compost regularly to make sure it has not dried out, and adding waste as it accumulates.

Step 6

Mix the compost layers using a shovel to turn them into each other.

Step 7

Continue adding materials and turning the compost about once per week until it decomposes into rich, black material ready to be used in the garden.

Step 8

Remove the finished compost, and continue composting waste that has not yet reached the finishing point.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't add cat or dog waste, or animal byproducts such as meat, bones or milk products to the compost bin. These cause odors, slow down the composting process and attract insects.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Shovel


  • Colorado State University Extension Office: Composting Yard Waste
  • Environmental Protection Agency: Frequent Composting Questions
Keywords: compost waste, composting kitchen and yard waste, starting waste compost pile

About this Author

Carlye Jones is a journalist, freelance writer, photographer and novelist, with more than 15 years of experience. She enjoys sharing her expertise on home improvements, interior decorating, photography, gardening and traveling. Her work has appeared both in print and on numerous websites, such as Matador Travel. Carlye received her training at Northern Arizona University.