How to Make a Compost Pile in Your Backyard

6 steps to make a compost pile, plus a recipe for homemade fertilizer

Composting is the perfect way to recycle biodegradable material, and because it’s easy to do, you can do your part to help the planet by taking relatively little time out of your day to make a compost pile. Composting is also a wonderful way to help you save money on fertilizer, and it can be an activity that brings the whole family together. Follow these simple steps to make a backyard compost pile.

Step 1: Find a dry, shady area for your compost pile

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, water is a necessary ingredient for compost. If your compost pile is in too bright of a spot, water will quickly dry up. However, a compost pile that is too moist is a problem too. For this reason, choose a dry area under a tree or within a building’s shade.

Step 2: Begin adding ingredients

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that, in addition to water, compost piles need brown and green ingredients to survive. Green ingredients are generally organic compost, food scraps like fruit peels and coffee grounds. Brown ingredients consist of paper, dead leaves, etc. Collect these items for composting, and add them to the compost pile. The Environmental Protection Agency reminds composters to shred large materials, like pieces of cardboard.

Step 3: Make sure to add enough water

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends adding moisture when you add dry items. If you have too many dry items, you won’t make compost. But be careful that you don’t add a monsoon! You want just enough to keep the compost moist.

Step 4: Blend materials

Once you’ve added a good amount of greens and browns to your home compost pile, the EPA recommends that you use a pitchfork to bury fruit and vegetable materials under at least 10 inches of other material. You can also add grass clippings at this point.

Step 5: Wait

This is the easiest part of making your backyard compost pile! The EPA states that making compost takes between two months and two years. The agency notes that when the material at the bottom of your pile is dark black, your compost is ready to be used as fertilizer.

Step 6: Repeat

You’ll always have kitchen scraps and grass clippings, so don’t make a backyard compost pile once and decide you’re done. Instead, repeat the process, and you’ll help the environment by reducing the size of your local landfill, and you'll always have good fertilizer.

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