The Do’s and Dont’s of Compost


Composting can be a rewarding activity for homeowners. Not only will composting do wonders for your yard’s overall health, but it reduces and recycles would-be kitchen waste, eliminates the need for chemical-ridden fertilizers and it returns moisture to the ground, helping to fight droughts. Perhaps the best part of composting, though, is that it requires little maintenance and it’s free.

What is Compost?

Compost is a rich soil chock-full of nutrients and moisture. It’s created from a mixture of food scraps, lawn clippings and other organic materials, often in a large receptacle. When combined, the ingredients decompose into a moist, organic fertilizer, or humus, often in only a few weeks. Some materials that can be composted include:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings
  • Wood ash
  • Tea leaves
  • Coffee grounds
  • Newspaper and shredded paper
  • Cardboard
  • Wood chips
  • And so much more

Creating your own compost heap is a relatively easy process, but there are some common mistakes that should be avoided. Here are some composting do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Composting Do’s

  • Mix a variety of foods scraps with grass clippings – Certain items will decompose in different ways, so it’s important to get a good mixture. For example, grass clippings and leaves tend to compact when decomposed, which can inhibit air flow. Spreading the items around helps create a better balance.
  • Bury food scraps deep in the compost bin – Tossing food scraps into a pile in your backyard is an easy way to attract rodents, which is why it’s best to keep your fruit, eggshells and coffee grounds deep at the bottom of the pile.
  • Apply compost to dirt, edible gardens and trees – Your compost isn’t just for your grass. It also works well with trees and bushes. It may seem odd to include scraps of cardboard and eggshells in your edible garden, but it will thrive with about two to four inches of compost in the soil.
  • Cut compost materials into small pieces – If you’re mixing large items in your compost heap, remember to cut them up into smaller pieces beforehand. This will help the decomposition process go faster.
  • Keep your compost covered – Using a compost bin makes this easy, as it will likely come with a lid. Keeping your compost covered keeps unwanted elements out, like excessive moisture and unwanted debris, and will help the pile retain moisture during the summer and other dry periods.

Composting Don’ts

  • Don’t use diseased plants – Composting typically works best when the organic matter you’re decomposing are all relatively healthy. Avoid using plants that are diseased or toxic to other plants.
  • Don’t add pet waste or litter – Cat litter and solid pet waste should never be added to your compost heap. These items often harbor bacteria and other dangerous germs that can be harmful to your plants and harmful to eat.
  • Avoid foods like fish, meat, dairy or fatty foods – Many kitchen scraps work well with compost, but fish, meat, dairy and greasy foods in general should be avoided. Not only do these items have issues decomposing but they will likely attract pests.
  • Don’t allow your compost to get soggy – You want your compost to be moist, but not soggy. This can be difficult during the winter, but if you keep it covered, churn it each time you add materials and add lots of materials made from fine carbon, like sawdust and autumn leaves, you can help avoid having a soggy compost heap come spring.

Professional Yard and Tree Care

Adding compost to your trees, lawn and garden is an easy way to give your yard a healthy boost. But some yardwork requires a professional’s expertise, especially when it comes to tree services. Whether that involves pruning, insect management or just about any other residential tree service, consider Gunnison Tree Specialists. Gunnison is fully certified and insured, with nearly 20 years of experience in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Contact Gunnison by calling 404-386-3333 or by visiting us online to schedule an appointment today!


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