Organic wastes (kitchen scraps, leaf and yard waste, and Christmas trees) make up approximately one-third of the waste stream. SWS believes that composting at home is the most practical and cost-effective way to manage organic materials in Wellington County.

Backyard composting is an outdoor activity involving the natural decomposition of organic materials, such as kitchen and yard waste, by soil organisms. Composters are available at any of the County's six waste facilities, year round for $30, taxes included. Please watch this page or the Wellington Advertiser for notice of any future Truckload sales.

The Master Composter Programme is an initiative from SWS to assist residents in successfully managing their organics through home composting. The programme focuses on education and includes workshops for residents to learn how to compost at home - in their backyard or in their kitchen. It will also expand to include a neighbourhood captain programme where volunteers will be available to assist residents with their composting questions, one-on-one. Demonstration gardens and beautification projects will be established as the programme matures.

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


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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.


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.


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.


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.


The County of Wellington subsidizes the sale of composters for $30 (tax included) year-round at all of our waste facilities.

The Earth Machine composters which we stock have the following specifications:

  • large 360 litre capacity (82 cm high by an 82 cm base diameter)
  • made from recycled plastic
  • easy snap together assembly
  • durable and lightweight design
  • rodent resistant (securable access door and locking lid)
  • twist pegs that secure the unit to the ground

Please note that the County will not be hosting a truckload sale this year. Please watch this page or the Wellington Advertiser for notice of any future Truckload sale.

Don't forget about vermicompostingred wigglers with finished compost

Vermicomposting is usually practised indoors, and is perfect for anyone in a household or business where outdoor composting is not an option. It is also an excellent educational tool for children to learn about composting first-hand.

Contact us for more information or search online for numerous tips on building a worm bin, ordering red wiggler worms, etc. Remember, worms are not dirty or smelly and a worm bin is easy to maintain.

Master Composter Programme


composter in garden

As a largely rural community, residents of the County of Wellington have been composting organics for many years. In the early 1990's, a study done in the Township of West Garafraxa, showed that 81.63% of residents were managing organics through composting. Also at that time, the County trained two of its staff as Master Composters. Composting workshops were held on a regular basis in the 21 member municipalities.

Solid Waste Services has continued to promote composting by selling composters at cost at waste facilities and at a subsidized rate through prior years' truckload sales. Council has approved reinstating the Master Composter programme to further promote backyard composting. The goal is to ensure residents of the County have all of the tools and education required to be successful at managing their organics at home.

Five Key Objectives

  • increase the number of residents actively composting household organics
  • determine the needs of residents in order to be successful at backyard composting
  • create opportunities to illustrate the benefits of using compost on plants, lawns, and gardens
  • create opportunities to partner with others for beautification and food production projects
  • collect data to determine participation in backyard composting in the County

Composting Workshops

"Back to Our Roots"

Back to Our Roots composting workshops are offered to residents who want to learn how to divert household organics from landfill. These workshops are free.  They are designed for both beginners and those who have experience with backyard composting.

To register please contact the library branch that is hosting the workshop on the date you'd like to attend.

These are the dates and locations of the workshops taking place in 2018

  • April 14, 2018 10:00 am to 12:00 pm - Fergus Library located at 190 St. Andrew St. W. in Fergus
  • April 21, 2018 10:00 am to 12:00 pm - Palmerston Library located at 265 Bell St. in Palmerston 

These are some comments from past workshop participants:

  • "Very informative - well worth it!"
  • "Does not seem as difficult as I thought."
  • "I did not realize I could compost grass clippings and shredded paper."
  • "See real value in doing backyard composting."
  • "Putting compost on the grass instead of commercial fertilizer is something I had not thought of doing!"

View Event Poster

Workshop Video links

How Composting Works

How to Site a Backyard Composter

How to Deter Pests from Your Compost Pile

How to Aereate Your Compost Bin

How to Harvest and Use Finished Compost 

Workshops and Volunteer Opportunities

If you are interested in becoming involved with any of the following opportunities, please contact SWS with your name, address, phone number and preferred email address.

Diversion Study 2011-2012
SWS worked with a number of volunteers to track the amount of organic material which their household diverts through backyard composting. 19 households started out in the study, and 10 continued for a full year of data tracking. Residents provided a count of the number of times they emptied their compost bucket each month. An average weight per litre was used to calculate the amount of kitchen organics diverted by each household. 

Over the year, the participants diverted an average of 218.99 pounds (99.33 kg) per person. This amount is actually higher than the provincial average of 206.05 pounds (93.46 kg) reported by Waste Diversion Ontario in 2011. Based on these results, if every person in Wellington County used a backyard composter, over 20 million pounds (9,300 kg) of kitchen organics could be diverted from landfill each year.

Community Partnership Opportunities
SWS has been in discussions with local horticultural societies to determine interest in partnering to develop demonstration gardens at waste facilities. In the future, SWS hopes to partner with other groups on landscape beautification and food production projects. If you are a member of a community group with similar interests - please contact SWS.



© 2018 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, F 519.837.1909