Home Backyard Composting Basics

In a successful pile you will find friendly bugs, worms, and micro-organisms that will do most of the composting for you. The following four essential ingredients provide these creatures with the best environment to do their “work.”

A healthy compost pile will contain the “big four”

  1. Browns are carbon rich, dry, woody materials such as fallen leaves, hay, dried plants and weeds.
  2. Greens are nitrogen rich, green, moist materials such as kitchen scraps, young weeds, and grass clippings. Your "green" sources will act as the activator in your pile.  See the table below for examples.
  3. Water your pile until it is moist but not wet, or the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.
  4. Air added to your pile will significantly speed up its decomposition.  You can do this by turning, or layering with bulky materials to create air spaces between materials.

Do Compost

  • Fallen Leaves - browns
  • Finely chopped, woody prunings - browns
  • Pine needles - browns
  • Untreated wood sawdust - browns
  • Breads and Grains- greens
  • Tea bags - greens
  • Coffee grounds - greens
  • Egg shells - greens
  • Lawn clippings - greens
  • Young weeds - greens
  • Vegetable & fruit peels and scraps - greens
  • Manure from non-meat eating animals

Don't Compost

  • Meat & bones
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Greasy foods
  • Plywood sawdust
  • Treated wood sawdust
  • Diseased plants
  • Dog, cat, or bird feces
  • Poison Oak
  • Bermuda grass, ivy & rhizome grasses
  • BBQ or coal ashes