You’ve likely heard the term “composting” thrown around often and how it can be largely beneficial to your yard. However, if you aren’t too familiar with what composting entails or how to even begin your own compost pile, fear not. The process and steps to start composting might seemingly have a lot of moving parts, but it isn’t as complicated as you might imagine.
Let’s first start with the basics: what is composting? Composting is a simple way that you can reduce your overall waste while also improving both your yard and garden soil. When you take garden trimmings, food scraps, and other compostable items and add them all together, you can eventually wind up with a decomposed organic material that improves your soil and is rich in nutrients and other beneficial organisms! Plus, the benefits will be rewarding for years to come. Here are five simple, yet necessary steps to starting your own compost pile in your backyard.
1. Start by collecting the right materials.
Begin your composting journey by knowing what you can compost and what you can’t. It isn’t as simple as just throwing in your garbage and voila. If only…
You’ll want to find food scraps and other high nitrogen sources, but also dry, brown carbon sources, too. Some nitrogen sources you’ll want include grass clippings, weeds, manure, fruit scraps, veggie scraps, tea bags, and eggshells, to name a few. Additionally, carbon sources you can compost include sawdust, corn stalks, hay, straw, dead leaves, and more.
These organic materials will decompose together over time creating the ultimate matter for your use.
2. Select a proper container.
The good news is you don’t have to get complicated with what bin you use to start composting. You can either make a bin or buy one, whether it’s a simple pile of scraps or a single storage container. Using a container is often the smarter choice when starting as it can retain heat and moisture. Pro-tip: you’ll want a small enough pile to turn in but big enough to retain heat.
3. Choose where you want to compost in your yard.
Spending time choosing the right spot will often be something you’ll thank yourself for down the road. Try to find a shady spot, preferably near a water source. Also, make sure it’s convenient enough for you to add and access your materials. Good drainage is also important, so keep that in mind as you look around your yard.
4. Add the materials and keep watered!
You can start your pile by laying a base of browns, perhaps 4-6 inches of small branches or other course carbons. This will allow for proper air circulation and drainage. Then add an equal mixture of greens and browns, which can include dead autumn leaves and fresh grass clippings. If you’re having Handsome Lawn Service over for the day, then make sure to let us know if you’d like us to leave behind some clippings!
Keep in mind that you’ll want to water as you go—the compost pile should always be moist. A good test would be if small droplets of water are visible when you squeeze the pile with your hands.
5. Turn the composting pile regularly.
After building the compost pile, the process of composting begins. Insects, bacteria, worms, and fungi break down the organic materials and help decompose everything. The microbes inside this pile are living things that will need water and air to thrive. This is why turning the pile every week is important. Using a spade or a shovel will help to add air, but also prevent any odors from building up.
And just like that, you have a few quick steps to start composting in your yard. Imagine all of the things you can do! Using finish compost can help improve your soil, especially when it comes to gardening, filling in low spots to help lawn growth in your yard, and being used as mulch for landscaping and garden plants. Oh, the things you can do!