Compost Piles and Bins
For easy and efficient composting, yard trimmings can simply be stacked into piles. Leaves, grass clippings, twigs and weeds (except ones that have gone to seed or spread by runners, such as Morning Glory or Buttercup) can easily be added to a pile as they are collected from the yard. It is not necessary to add fertilizer or compost starter to a pile because all the ingredients needed for composting are already in yard trimmings.
A tidier composting method makes use of holding bins, simple structures that surround and confine compost piles. Bins can be made with wire mesh shaped into a ring or from wooden pallets fastened together to form a square. Bins are also sold at local lawn and garden shops.
Harvesting the finished compost from a pile or holding bin is easy. After waiting six months to a year for the yard waste to fully decompose, remove the bin and set it up again nearby. Starting at the top of the pile, remove any recently added material and either place it into the relocated bin or use it to begin a new pile. When you reach material that resembles rich soil, remove it for use in your garden. Large branches and other under-composed trimmings should be pulled out and shredded for further composting.
Just as a farmer can increase crop yields by creating ideal growing conditions through cultivating, fertilizing and watering, at home we can speed up the compost process by creating ideal conditions, too. Some pointers for compost farming include:
- Adequate watering - Lack of water is the most common problem for most home composting. Composted materials should be moist, but not dripping wet. Cover piles with dark plastic or tarp if your compost is drying out.
- Balanced Nutrients - Compost organisms thrive on a 1:2 diet of nitrogen and carbon. For rapid decomposition, mix one part of nitrogen-rich green wastes, such as grass clippings, with two parts of carbon-rich brown wastes, such as dead leaves or corn stalks.
- Aeration - A steady supply of air is required for efficient composting. Turning or mixing a compost pile will help air reach the center. A wide variety of multiple-bin composting systems and rotating drum composters are available to simplify turning the compost. A pitch fork also works well.
- Surface area - The more surface area bacteria have to work on, the faster your yard waste will decompose. To speed up the composting, you can run over the material with a lawnmower or put it through a shredder
You can also visit Home Composting Made Easy for more helpful tips on composting!
Grasscycling - Leave-It-Lay
Residents are encouraged to mulch their yard trimmings as they mow. Mulching your trimmings benefits your yard in many ways by
- Returning Valuable Nutrients to the soil
- Helping Keep Moisture in the Lawn
- Preventing weed growth and soil erosion
Many hardware stores keep mulching mower blades in stock and they are easily retrofitted on to your existing mower. Recycling your lawn will save you time and money and is environmentally correct. Follow these simple guidelines to a healthy lawn:
- Place mulching mower blade on your existing mower.
- Cut your grass high and allow clippings to remain on your lawn.
- Grass clippings are free fertilizer; allow them to work as such.
- Cut more frequently, it will minimize the need for raking.