Fall Is the Perfect Time to Start Composting!

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Trees are shedding their leaves throughout North Carolina. Now is the perfect time to start a compost pile!

Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic materials into a beneficial soil amendment called compost. Leaves, food scraps, grass clippings, yard trimmings, and many other organic materials can be composted at home in compost piles or bins. Home composting is an easy and economical way for people to convert organic materials into compost that can be used to enrich soil, enhance plant growth, mulch landscaping, and provide other benefits to soils and plants.

3 Reasons to Compost Yard Waste

  • Saves Money: Converting food scraps and yard trimmings to compost saves on buying soil amendments and fertilizers.
  • Saves Time: Discarding to a compost pile is often faster than bagging and bundling sticks for street-side yard disposal.
  • Reduces Community Costs: Your community will need less landfill space and they will save on equipment, fuel and labor costs for collecting your organic materials.

You can compost in a pile or in a bin that you have built or purchased. On the internet, you can find plans for making compost bins or sites that sell manufactured bins. Some communities sell composting bins at a subsidized rate (e.g., Wake County had a 50% off compost bin sale during October 2016). Place your compost pile or bin in a flat, open space that is easily accessible but not right next to your house. Keep the area in front of and above the bin clear so you can access it easily. You can compost as a Single Batch (adding materials all at once to form a pile) or a Continuous Pile (adding materials as they become available). Using the Hot Pile Method, it will take 3 to 6 months to produce finished compost. The Cold Pile Method will take 9 to 12 months or longer.

Garden and field crops, lawns, shrubs, trees, and potted plants can benefit from compost. In clay soils, compost improves aeration and drainage, and makes it easier to work with hand tools. In sandy soils, compost increases water-holding capacity and increases soil aggregation. Compost encourages healthy plant roots and may suppress some plant diseases and pests.

Learn more about composting your household food scraps and yard waste in Backyard Composting of Yard, Garden, and Food Discards

Written By

Photo of Rhonda ShermanRhonda ShermanExtension Solid Waste Specialist (919) 515-6770 rhonda_sherman@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
Updated on Nov 9, 2016
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