Last Updated on September 29, 2022
Backyard composting is an easy way to help the planet and get rid of all your food scraps. We will guide you through the process and answer all your questions!
Whether you choose to go with outdoor worm composting, backyard compost tumbler, or any of the other methods we mention, it’s good for the environment. Creating your own organic compost is easy and a great way to improve your soil.
Composting is awesome! That might sound a little nerdy, but let’s use an apple as an example.
You pick an apple from the tree, you eat the apple down to the core, and you put the core in your compost pile which turns into a nutrient rich soil that you can use to grow more apple trees!
I believe we call this the CIRCLE OF LIFEEE! Thanks Lion King!
The average US household produces 650 lbs of organic trash a year, but most of that is landfilled. In fact, 60% of our landfills are full of organic matter.
You think it would break down since it’s dumped into a giant hole in the ground, but it doesn’t because landfills aren’t aerated.
It’s called anaerobic decomposition, and all of that oxygen deprived, organic matter now releases methane into the atmosphere.
Methane is 72% more powerful than CO2 which means it’s responsible for hastening climate related issues.
You can read more about greenhouse gasses in my post How to Offset Your Carbon Footprint and Why You Should.
Because organic and inorganic materials are mixed together, think of your trash bags, plastic, and food scraps it creates a perfect preserved atmosphere. Things like guacamole, hot dogs, and newspapers have been found in perfect condition from the 50s! (source)
Yup. Our food. Preserved. Forever. Releasing Methane. #notgood
In fact, Paul Hawken, the author of Drawdown and one of my personal heroes lists ending food waste as one of the top 10 ways for us to help reverse global warming.
I made you a handy chart full of what you can and can’t put in your compost pile. Pin it. Share it.
Place it by your fridge or your trashcan so you can make the most of backyard composting.
With just one simple swap, like making organic compost, you can drastically reduce the amount of trash you throw away each week!
Don’t believe me? Just check out this post on 3 Simple Swaps you Can Make to Cut Your Trash by 80%!
Now, in the graphic below, you’ll notice that some of the things have an asterisk by them.
Those are things that are accepted in industrial composting facilities, but might not be so great for a backyard composting environment.
Industrial composting facilities are heated which helps facilitate and speed up decomposition.
Composting piles in your backyard will take a bit longer for things to break down and things like oils, baked goods, meat, and cheese aren’t recommended because they will take a long time to break down and might attract critters.
With backyard composting you want to make sure that you keep it balanced between carbon and nitrogen.
Carbon heavy items are things like shredded paper, dried leaves, and cardboard. So, basically ordering that pizza in a cardboard box and ripping it into tiny pieces is GREAT for your organic compost pile!
Nitrogen heavy items are going to be your food scraps like kale stems, apple cores, etc. You want to work to keep at least a half and half balance.
guide to backyard composting
Sound like a little too much to deal with? You can always hire someone.
Typically with a quick google search you can turn up companies that are willing to take your organic matter and handle the composting for you like Compost Now for a small fee.
An enclosed bin is ideal for a backyard. It sits on the ground, has a lid, and is aerated along the tops and sides to help with decomposition.
At the bottom of the bin, there is a small door that can be opened to remove the fully developed organic compost while you keep adding new scraps to the top.
This method takes the longest to turn the scraps into soil. You can buy an enclosed bin or if you’re feeling crafty, you can DIY.
backyard compost tumbler:
A backyard compost tumbler is the EASIEST type of bin to use! It’s raised off the ground, which is really nice. It gives it a bit of extra critter protection.
You put your food scraps in the compartment, give it a tumble, and voila! In a few short months, you’ll have organic compost.
I recommend getting a tumbler with two compartments so once one is full and in the process of breaking down, you can keep adding your compost to the other side.
This is great for small backyards and balconies.
outdoor worm composting / vermicomposting:
Also, known as a worm bin. I had a worm bin 360 which I found on craigslist for $60. Woot Woot!
It did not come with the worms, so I bought them at a local bait shop. I couldn’t handle outdoor worm composting and sent 1,000 worms to worm heaven. May they rest in peace.
I LOVED having worms they were like my pets but they’re temperature sensitive and need to be kept inside.
Note: It’s not recommended that you give them too many citrus peels.
This is a very easy option, go into your backyard and dig a small hole around a foot deep, lace your scraps in the hole, and cover it up. The scraps should decompose in about a month.
For more compost knowledge check out what your town has available. You could be surprised. Here’s a handy guide for the different regions of the US. Also, very helpful when traveling.
If you’re in an apartment or looking for more of a guide on what to do indoors be sure to check out my blog post Tips for Composting in an Apartment!
If you’re interested in learning more about soil regeneration, gardening, and getting your dirt on you’ve got to check out this class hosted by the lovely family from Brush with Bamboo.
frequently asked questions
what do you use compost for?
There are many uses for compost such as using it to mulch your gardens, add to flower pots, or use it to add nutrients to your fruit trees.
how do you know when compost is ready to use?
You’ll notice when you look at it, it smells very earthy and there aren’t any large recognizable food scraps. It should be a deep and dark color.
It’s important that you only use organic compost when it’s mature. Otherwise, it can hurt your flowers and plants.
Do you compost? What method do you use?