Will It Compost?

Let's find out, shall we?

Related To:

So you’ve decided to start composting. No big deal, right? Wrong. While it doesn’t have to be a difficult task, there are definitely a few things to consider when it comes to your personal compost pile. For example, are you going to buy a bin or build your own? Are you well versed in how to keep pests away and worms welcome? How often are you supposed to turn the pile anyway? 

482615861

482615861

Kitchen fruit and vegetable waste ready for recycling. AdobeRGB colorspace.

Photo by: lucentius

lucentius

All of these things and more will impact the utility of your compost and ultimately the health of your plants. But, of course, the most important thing to consider when investing in the well-being of your garden is what exactly are you (and aren’t you) supposed to add to your compost pile? For that, I’m here to help. 

Get more tips

Will It Compost? 01:38

Did you get all that? Not too difficult, right? But for the finest, healthiest fertilizer around, you'll want to follow these tips. 

Let’s start with your green materials. These are the materials like fresh grass clippings and kitchen scraps that are rich in nitrogen and can speed up the breakdown process. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, fresh plant clippings and even horse or cow manure would fall into this category. 

154955633

154955633

Pouring food scraps into a compost pile.

Photo by: Janine Lamontagne

Janine Lamontagne

Now, let's move on to brown materials. Brown materials, such as newspaper and dead leaves, are rich in carbon. Got a stinky compost pile? You probably need to add more brown material. Eggshells, bread scraps, paper towels, cardboard, sawdust, hair and potting soil are all brown materials. For the ideal pile of compost, you should aim for a carbon to nitrogen ratio of about 30:1. From there, keep the pile moist, make sure it gets plenty of sun and don’t forget to turn it.

But before you run off to start your pile, let’s go over a few compost no-nos. While experts disagree on a few possible additions (dryer lint, yay or nay?), these common items should never be included for a thriving compost pile.

Compost Castoffs

  • colored or glossy paper
  • coal or charcoal
  • meat
  • bones
  • pet feces or litter
  • sand
  • grease, fat or oil
  • dairy products
  • weeds with seeds
  • pressure-treated lumber
  • plastic
  • stickers

Follow these tips, and soon (about six months to a year) you’ll have your very own nutrient-rich compost to brag about. And you’ll probably be as happy as the man you see below.

531419454

531419454

So rich, so lush.

Photo by: Ridofranz

Ridofranz

So rich, so lush.

Build Your Own Bin

See All Photos

Shop Related Products

Looking to learn even more about composting?

Keep Reading

Next Up

Organic, Sustainable + Biodynamic Wine: What's the Difference?

A lesson in eco-friendly wines, just in time for Earth Day.

5 Easy Gardening Projects to Tackle on Earth Day

Get your hands dirty (and save the planet) this Earth Day.

Late Frost Happens: How to Help Your Plants

Protect trees, shrubs, flowers and veggies from late spring frosts and freezes with these tried-and-true tips. 

10 Essential Fall Gardening Tasks to Do Right Now (You'll Be So Glad You Did)

Tackle this list of fall gardening chores, then get back to that hot toddy. You deserve it!

Georgia Apple Picking, Plus 7 Recipes For the Bounty

Take a virtual trip to a Georgia apple orchard, plus discover seven boozy ways to get an apple a day.

23 Signs You're a Complete and Utter #PlantLady

"I can't go out, my plants need me."

Refresh Your Yard With Matt Blashaw's Expert Advice

If you ran into the Yard Crashers host at your local store, here's the gardening guidance he'd give you.

9 Adorable Gifts to Give Kid-Sized Gardeners

Tiny people love gardening too! Kindle that garden spirit with a great garden toy this holiday.

Meet the Team

Get to know the talented writers and editors of HGTV's show and design blog. 

Go Behind the Blog

From the Archives

Take a look back at our past posts, from entertaining and design trends to up-and-coming HGTV shows.  

Read All Our Past Posts