How to Keep Pets Out of Your Compost Pile

4 steps to keep cats, dogs and other intruders out of your composting project

If you’ve discovered the benefits of creating a backyard compost pile, then you also know it could attract unwelcome guests like your pets. We all know how curious dogs and cats can become with new smells. They just can’t help giving things a good sniff, and there will be plenty of aromas coming from the compost pile. Here are some tips to keep your pets out of your compost, with help from the editors of E - The Environmental Magazine.

Step 1: Watch what you compost

Once you’ve started your backyard compost, you’re probably going to enlist the entire family to help with the project. Just make sure everyone is aware of the dos and don’ts of what to add to your compost pile. You should always avoid throwing meat, bones and fish scraps into your compost pile, especially if you have pets. These are the very same types of goodies your pets would be looking for in the garbage, and it’s only natural they would try to sniff them out in the compost pile. Also, meat and fish refuse could attract other critters, like raccoons, possums and bears.

Step 2: Bury your food scraps

You should always try to bury any food scraps at least eight to twelve inches deep within the compost, according to E. Not only will this be the perfect time to turn your backyard compost, but it will also cut down on the smells that will attract your pets. As an additional measure, consider tossing your food scraps in wood ashes or dirt before burying them in your compost pile. This will add one more deterrent to curious pets.

Step 3: Attach a wire mesh lid to your compost storage

E also suggests that if you’ve built a wooden compost box, you might consider adding a wire mesh top as a way of keeping your pets out. If your compost pile is freestanding, E recommends covering the entire pile in wire mesh and holding the wire in place with bricks or other heavy objects. This might make accessing your pile a bit more of a hassle, but will certainly keep pets out of the pile.

Step 4: Upgrade to fully contained compost storage

Your first experiment in home composting might turn out to be a small pile in an unused corner of the backyard. However, once you discover all the benefits you’ll receive from your nutrient-rich humus, you could consider expanding your backyard compost operation with a larger storage unit. There are prefabricated compost containers that come equipped with lids or doors, and these types of composters will definitely keep your pets out. You could even obtain a rotating drum or tumbler container which makes turning your compost pile as easy as cranking a wheel or turning the container end over end.

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