Backyard Composting

Each household can divert 10-30% of waste from landfill by backyard composting. Add finished compost to gardens, lawns and plants as a nutrient-rich soil amendment.

No matter what the season, do your part by returning what comes out of the ground back to the soil. This will also reduce your waste disposal costs and send less waste to County landfills. Mix compost into your garden soil annually before planting. Spread the compost around your yard and under trees. Sprinkle a thin layer on your house plants. If you have extra compost, share with a friend.

Composting Information

Materials

To help breakdown and to create a nutrient-rich compost, a well maintained composting bin requires a balance of both nitrogen-rich "green materials" (e.g., fruit/vegetable scraps or fresh cut grass) and carbon-rich "brown materials" (e.g., dried leaves, dried grass, or shredded newspaper) to be added in layers.

  • start by adding a layer of coarse material (twigs or straw) to help with drainage and ventilation
  • build equal layers of both "brown" and "green" material. This will enhance the breakdown of material and help prevent odours from occurring
  • always cover the materials with a layer of compost or soil
  • cover layers help prevent odours and flies, and introduce soil organisms to the newly added materials
  • with an established composter/pile, simply dig a hole, add new materials and cover
  • chop, shred or chip materials to help speed up the decomposition process
  • check the moisture level often and add water as needed

Moisture

  • your compost should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge
  • if too dry, add more green materials or a little water
  • if too much water is added, odours may occur

    • take off the composter lid and allow excess water to evaporate

Air

  • since the soil organisms in the composter require oxygen, mix the contents of the composter regularly by poking holes, turning with a shovel, or stirring with a stick

Heat

  • an active compost bin becomes quite hot in its centre (40-65 degrees Celsius or 104-150 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • the activity of soil organisms increases with the warmer temperatures of spring and summer

Compost year round

Spring

In spring, as a compost bin defrosts, microorganisms will become active and the decomposition process will speed up. Add water and a carbon source (e.g. dry leaves). Mix the compost to enhance the breakdown of materials.

Summer

Microbial activity increases in the summer and the compost will become quite "hot" if the bin is maintained with suitable levels of oxygen, water and materials. To speed up decomposition, break/chop materials into small pieces, keep the compost as moist as a wrung-out sponge, and mix the compost to add air.

Fall

Add dry fallen leaves to your composter as a "brown" material. If you have surplus leaves, store for later use, create a compost bin for leaves only, apply leaves to the garden as mulch, or allow a moderate amount of shredded fallen leaves to decompose on the lawn naturally.

Winter

Continue to add materials to the composter and layer with reserved dry leaves (if you have them). As materials in a composter break down, heat is produced, so decomposition will continue even as the outside temperature drops.

Composting Workshops

The County hosts backyard composting workshops each spring.  Participants learn about the science of backyard composting, troubleshooting, and tips on how to use finished compost. Please visit the Master Composter Programme page for details.