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Why should I compost?

  • Composting is an ideal way to recycle organic waste from your home - it turns kitchen waste, garden residues, weeds, and wood products into great garden fertilizer! 
  • Using compost helps your plants grow healthier!
  • Composting saves you money on disposal fees and leaf/grass bags. 
  • Composting will reduce the amount of waste being sent to the landfill.  It is estimated that up to 30% of the waste sent to the landfill could be composted!

The composting process

Composting is nature's way of recycling organic matter.  It is a natural biological process in which microorganisms break down organic material to form a soil-like matter called humus.  If you place your yard waste in a suitable spot, nature will turn them into compost - just as it does in the forest. 

For a compost pile to be efficient, the following natural ingredients must be present:

  • oxygen
  • microorganisms (bacteria and fungi)
  • moisture
  • a suitable temperature for the microorganisms to thrive in

The process of composting occurs everywhere in nature!  However, depending on environmental conditions, it can take a long time for material to fully decompose.  Backyard composting speeds up the natural decomposition process, creating fertilizer faster.

 What materials do I need for a successfull compost pile?

Composting is a simple process, and can be done in almost every backyard!  You should have a few basic materials to ensure your composting is efficient and trouble-free.

The Composter:

First, you need a designated area to place your compost.  It is recommended that you use a bin with a lid, as it will keep the compost pile tidy and rodent-free.  Backyard composters can be purchased at many home and garden stores.Alternatively, you can construct a bin from wire mesh shaped into a ring, or from wooden pallets lashed together to form a square. 

An Aerating Tool:

Composting requires oxygen!  If your compost pile does not get enough oxygen the decomposition process might become anaerobic, causing bad odours.  To ensure efficient air-flow through your compost pile, use an aerating tool, a shovel or a stick to mix or poke the pile every week. 

A Small Bucket:

If you are composting kitchen scraps, a small bucket with a lid can be used to collect scraps in.  The container should be emptied into the compost pile frequently to prevent odours.

What can I compost?

When you have all the required materials, you are ready to start composting!  The scraps that you compost can be divided into two types of material, Green Material (nitrogen-rich) and Brown Material (carbon-rich). 

Green Material

  • plant trimmings
  • fruit & vegetable scraps
  • fresh grass clippings
  • coffee grounds & tea bags
  • flowers
  • eggshells

  Brown Material

  • dry flowers and leaves
  • straw
  • sawdust
  • dry grass clippings
  • corn stalks and cobs
  • shredded newspaper
  • wood chips

Place a layer of brown material at the bottom of your compost bin followed by a layer of green material.  Cover the pile with a layer of brown material.  When you add new green material to the pile, always be sure to bury it or cover it with brown material.  Aerate your pile every week to ensure it is getting enough oxygen. 

As they are collected, leaves, grass clippings, twigs and weeds can be easily added to the pile. After waiting for six months to a year, you will have rich soil that can be used in your garden.

To avoid attracting pests such as rodents and to minimize odours, always avoid composting the following materials:

  • meat, oils,fish and bones
  • grains, breads, or baked goods
  • dairy products
  • cat and dog manure

Food Wastes                      

The easiest way to compost food like vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells is by burying them under a few inches of soil or composting material.

Coffee grounds make an excellent addition to your compost as green material.  When combined with browns such as leaves, the grounds generate heat promoting the composting of other materials.  Used coffee grounds are available at your local Starbucks as a part of the "Grounds for your Garden" program. 

Tips and troubleshooting

  • Adequate Watering
    Cover piles with black plastic or tarp to prevent them from drying out.  
  • Balance Nutrients
    For rapid decomposition, mix equal parts of nitrogen-rich wastes such as green clippings with carbon-rich wastes such as dead leaves or corn stalks.
  • Aeration
    Turning or mixing the pile will help air reach the center.
  • Surface Area
    The more surface area the micro-organisms have to work on, the faster the materials will decompose. To speed up the process, chop up yard wastes.
  • Volume
    Too large or too small piles will have trouble holding the necessary amount of heat and air. Piles larger than three cubic feet, and smaller than five cubic feet will give you a fast, hot compost.

Uses of compost

  • Fertilizer
    Mix 2-5 inches of compost into vegetable and flower gardens each year before planting or for new tree or shrub plantings.
  • Potting Mixture
    Use sifted compost to make a rich, light potting soil for house plants and seedlings.
  • Mulch
    To prevent soil compaction and help keep roots moist, spread up to six inches around trees and shrubs, and 1 or 2 inches around annuals, flowers, and vegetables.


Around trees, shrubs and other plantings, mulching keeps soil loose and moist, smothers weeds, prevents soil erosion, and releases nutrients as the material decomposes.

    • Grass Clippings and Green Leaves
      Layer .5 inch around vegetables, flowers, trees and shrubs.
    • Brown Leaves, Pine Needles & Sawdust
      Layer 3 to 6 inches around trees and shrubs out to the drip line. Use it to cover garden beds over winter.
    • Wood Chips
      Layer 3 to 4 inches around trees and shrubs or use it to soften the garden path.

Note: Do not use woody wastes on annual planting areas where they can be mixed into the soil.