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How to Compost: A Simple Guide to Enriching Your Soil and Reducing Waste (in 4 steps!)

by Idris Ya'u
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

When it comes to composting, think of your kitchen scraps and yard waste as the ingredients for a recipe that will nourish your garden.

But where do you start with this eco-friendly endeavor?

By understanding the fundamentals of composting, you can transform waste into gold for your soil. From the types of materials you can compost to the step-by-step process of creating nutrient-rich humus, this guide will help you unlock the secrets of composting.

Get ready to turn your trash into treasure for your garden!

What is Composting?

brown dried leaves on ground

Composting is a natural process where organic materials like food scraps, yard waste, and paper decompose into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. By composting, you aren’t only reducing waste sent to landfills but also creating a valuable resource for your garden.

Composting can be done in a simple pile or a plastic compost bin, allowing microorganisms like bacteria and fungi to break down the organic matter. Turning the compost regularly helps aerate the pile and speed up decomposition. Over time, you’ll see your compost transform into dark, crumbly soil that enriches your garden with essential nutrients. 

What Can You Compost

You may be wondering what you can toss into your compost pile and what items should be kept out. Knowing what to compost and what not to compost is vital to successful composting.

What to Compost

To create nutrient-rich compost, focus on adding a variety of organic materials such as:

  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Coffee Grounds and Filters
  • Eggshells
  • Tea Bags
  • Grass Clippings
  • Leaves
  • Plant Trimmings
  • Shredded Paper
  • Wood Chips and Sawdust
  • Straw or Hay

What Not to Compost

When it comes to composting, it’s important to know what materials you should avoid adding to your pile to ensure its effectiveness in enriching your soil. Here are some things that you should not compost:

  • Meat and Fish
  • Dairy Products
  • Oily Foods
  • Pet Waste
  • Weeds with Seeds
  • Coal Ash or Charcoal
  • Chemically Treated Wood

 How To Start Composting At Home

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide on how to start composting at home:

1. Select a Composting Method

Consider exploring different composting methods to find one that suits your space and lifestyle best. Here are three different composting methods you may want to consider:

  • Community Composting: Composting involves collecting organic waste from multiple households to create a large compost pile and is ideal for those looking to serve their community.
  • Vermicomposting: A hands-on approach that involves worms to help break down kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich compost.
  • Trench Composting: A method where you bury food scraps directly into the soil, is another option for those with limited space

Whichever method you choose, remember the goal is to enrich your soil and reduce waste. Experiment with different techniques to discover what works best for you and your surroundings.

2. Choose a Location

For successful composting at home, look for a site that receives ample sunlight and is easily accessible for adding waste and turning the compost pile. Choose a location near your kitchen for convenience to encourage you to add food scraps and other compostable materials regularly.

Additionally, ensure the site has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can slow down the composting process. You may want to consider placing your homemade composting bin or pile near a water source for easy access when moisture is needed.

3.  Collect Compostable Materials

Wondering what materials you can start collecting for composting at home? To enrich your soil and reduce waste, gather kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells.

Yard waste, such as grass clippings, leaves, and small branches, are great additions, too. Don’t forget about shredded paper, cardboard, and even newspaper – they can all be composted.

Avoid meat, dairy, and oily foods to prevent odors and pests. Keep a container in your kitchen for easy collection, and consider a small bin outside to transfer the materials to your compost pile.

4. Layer and Maintain the Compost Pile

To properly layer and maintain your compost pile at home, ensure you have a good balance of green and brown materials for optimal decomposition. Start by creating a layer of brown materials like dried leaves, straw, or shredded newspaper at the bottom. This helps with aeration and drainage.

Next, add a layer of green materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, or coffee grounds. Green materials provide essential nitrogen for the composting process.

Continue layering brown and green materials, making sure to keep the pile moist but not waterlogged. Turn the compost pile regularly to aerate it and speed up decomposition.

5. Harvest and Use the Compost

When it comes to harvesting and using the compost created in your home, you can enrich your garden soil with nutrient-rich organic matter.

To start, wait until your compost is dark, crumbly, and earthy-smelling, indicating it’s ready. Using a pitchfork or shovel, turn the compost to aerate it and aid in the decomposition process. Then, sift through the compost to remove any large debris that hasn’t broken down.

Next, apply the compost to your garden beds, mixing it into the soil to improve its structure and fertility.

By incorporating your homemade compost into your garden, you’ll be providing your plants with essential nutrients and promoting a healthy ecosystem right in your backyard.


Now that you know the basics of composting, you can start enriching your soil and reducing waste right at home.

Remember to compost your fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and yard waste, and follow the easy steps outlined in this guide to get started on your composting journey.

By practicing proper composting techniques, you can contribute to a healthier environment and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Happy composting!

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