How to Compost Yard Waste & Organics

Overview

Since laws regulating the disposal of yard waste and organics have become more stringent, the use of composting bins and piles has come back into mainstream use in America. Composting is not difficult, but you must familiarize yourself with a few methods and procedures. Knowing how to compost yard waste and organics will help you create one of the best natural fertilizers found, as well as reduce the amount of trash and the cost of disposal. Composting yard waste and organics can be done with very little setup and a simple schedule of maintenance.

The Composting Bin

Step 1

Build a compost bin 5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet square. This gives you enough room to store and create compost

Step 2

Measure from the end of the metal post to 5 feet. Mark the spot. Do this with all four posts. This will be the amount of the post above ground.

Step 3

Drive the shorter end of one metal post into the ground until you reach the marking. Measure 5 feet from the post and mark this spot. Measure another line from the same post 5 feet at a right angle to the first line and mark that spot.

Step 4

Drive the shorter end of a post into the ground at both markings. This gives you three corners of your compost bin. Measure a line from one of the new posts 5 feet at a right angle to the original line to form a "U". Mark the spot where you end up. This should give you the fourth corner. Drive the short end of the last post into the ground at this point.

Step 5

Attach the wire screen at one end to one of the posts. Use clips or zip ties to secure the screen to the post. Wrap the screen around the four posts until you are back at the first post. Secure the screen tightly to all four posts with clips or zip ties .

Material Preparation

Step 1

Put a layer of organic yard waste down for the first layer. Use grass clippings, leaves, weeds, hay and straw. Use items from the kitchen such as vegetable ends, coffee grounds, egg shells and vegetable based soap ends. Make the layer 6-8 inches deep.

Step 2

Coat the layer with water until it is moist.

Step 3

Put a 2-inch layer of garden soil or already composted material into the bin. This provides the needed bacteria that work to decompose the material in the bin. This is also the layer that keeps the odor down.

Step 4

Repeat the composting steps until the pile is 4 feet high.

Step 5

Put a small hole in the center of the pile to allow the material to catch rain or to add water to the pile as needed.

Creating Compost

Step 1

Turn the pile every few days to aerate the pile. Loosen the mixture to allow airlfow through the entire pile. If you don't turn the pile, or fail to turn it enough, the airflow will diminish and the pile will develop a foul odor; this is a sign that decomposition has slowed considerably.

Step 2

Add enough water to keep the pile moist but not wet. Avoid standing pools of water because this causes mold in the pile. Turn and water the pile more often during long periods hot or dry days.

Step 3

Use smaller pieces of material when creating compost. Keep material to a size limit of between 1/2 inch to 4 inches to allow for aeration while not requiring excess time for decomposition. Avoid large items such as big wood chips, broccoli stems, corn stalks and whole plants from the garden.

Step 4

Use a lawn mower, garden shredder or hand shears to cut down larger items to the proper size.

Things You'll Need

  • 6-foot metal poles (4)
  • 20-foot by 5-foot wire screen
  • Wire clips (5)
  • Sledgehammer

References

  • South Dakota State University
  • University of Minnesota
Keywords: compost yard waste and organics, composting yard waste, compost bin

About this Author

William A. Swan is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management.