Thinking about starting a compost pile for your garden? Here's what you need to know and why you should.
Creating and maintaining a compost pile at home not only helps to bring nutrients to your garden, but also benefits the earth.
What is compost?
By definition, compost is decayed organic material used as a plant fertilizer. For natural gardeners, compost is a great way to help boost your lawn or garden’s health, while helping to cut down on the amount of food and yard waste sent to landfills.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, composting requires three basic ingredients:
- Browns: This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
- Greens: This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds. (Never meat.)
- Water: Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.
What are the benefits of compost?
As mentioned earlier, composting at home can help to eliminate food and yard waste, which will help to reduce methane emissions from landfills. The EPA estimates that 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away could instead be composted.
In addition, composting helps to enrich your garden’s soil by maintaining moisture and suppressing plant diseases and pests. Compost also encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material, according to the EPA.
How can I start a compost pile?
There is no one way to start a compost pile for your garden, but below is a general guideline on how to start. If you don’t have a large backyard space, don’t worry! You can also create a compost pile inside. Check out ideas for inside composting here and here.
Steps to creating a compost pile:
- Pick a dry, shady spot for your compost pile or bin. Make sure a water source is nearby or easily accessed.
- Gather carbon-rich brown and green materials, such as leaves, dead flowers, newspaper clippings, grass clippings, vegetable peels, etc. Make sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
- Spread a layer of dry brown material, then top with a few inches of green material.
- Add a thin layer of soil.
- Add another layer of brown material.
- Moisten the layers.
- Cover to retain moisture and heat. Covering your pile will also prevent the compost from being over-watered by rain. You’ll want to keep the pile moist, but not saturated.
- Turn every few weeks with a shovel or pitchfork to aerate the compost.
You’ll be able to continue adding to your pile as the days and weeks go on.
TruGreen TruNatural® Plan
If natural gardening and lawn care is important to you, consider learning more about TruGreen’s TruNatural® Plan. This all-natural plan encourages healthy grass growth and gradually thickens your lawn.
To learn more about the TruNatural® Plan, call 866.688.6722 or visit TruGreen.com today. After you sign up, a specialist will come to your home and perform a Healthy Lawn Analysis® to help tailor a plan specific to your lawn needs.