Backyard Composting

Required Materials


Backyard composting requires a mix of different material types in order to work properly. This means a mix of dried (brown) materials and fresh (green) materials. Many organic household kitchen wastes may be used as well.

Getting Started


Layer brown materials, green materials, and small amounts of soil that contain moisture and the micro-organisms needed to begin the composting process.

Brown Materials


  • Dried leaves and grasses
  • Coffee grounds and tea leaves (filters may be included)
  • Shredded newspapers

Green Materials


  • Organic kitchen wastes (egg shells, peelings, etc.)
  • Fresh grass cuttings
  • Green leaves
Tip: Smaller pieces compost more rapidly. Cut or break-up large pieces such as banana peels, apple cores, etc.

Excluded Materials


  • Walnut leaves (these contain a substance that inhibits growth in other plants)
  • Seeds (including weeds with seeds on them)
  • Potato peelings (may contain diseases that can transfer to potatoes in your garden)
  • Milk or dairy products
  • Meats
  • Greases

Solutions to Composting Problems


  • Odor - The combination of materials may be wrong. Add more brown materials. Pile may need to be stirred or turned to allow oxygen into the pile. There may be too much moisture.
  • Compost Contains Seeds - Do not place seed materials into the bin. Stir or turn compost regularly. (Seeds may be killed if temperature is high enough, but most compost bins do not get this hot.)
  • Rodent Interference - Do not add meats, grease, milk or other dairy products.