Interested in Backyard Composting?
This page contains information and resources on how to successfully compost food scraps at home! Browse the links and information below, and reach out with the contact form if you have any questions.
Check out this 10-minute Building a Backyard Compost Pile made by our outreach coordinator, Shannon! Special thanks to the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington, VT, for allowing us to use their space for this video.
A 2018 study demonstrated that, in Vermont's landfill, roughly 25% of waste going to the landfill was food scraps and other organic materials.
How do you know if backyard composting is the right choice for you?
Backyard composting is a great option for people who have the space, even minimal, to create a pile outside. Browse this page for the information you need to understand how to choose a compost site, build and maintain a pile, and efficiently turn your food scraps into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
Considerations for Choosing a Compost Bin Set-Up -
Here are some things to consider when deciding what style of backyard composting would work best for you:
Quantity of food scraps you generate -
It's important to consider how much food scraps your household generates before deciding which type of compost system to use. Smaller households may want to consider small compost systems, such as a DIY tumbler.
Available Space -
Choose a location that is close enough to your home for easy access all year-round. Consider finding a space with extra storage for dry, “brown” materials.
This location should be close to your home for easy access all year-round.
Well-Drained Soils -
Find a location in your yard that has well-drained soil. This will be important to maintain proper moisture levels in the compost, especially during rainy seasons.
Sun or Shade? -
Some people think you must have your compost pile in the direct sun to maintain heat. Compost piles generate heat from within the compost, so direct sunlight is not necessary. Refrain from placing your compost pile under trees or large shrubs.
Least expensive design. Minimal effort to create.
Can be messy if material is not properly piled. May attract pests and animals to pile. Requires manual mixing. Takes longer to produce finished compost in comparison to using a bin.
DIY Pallet Bin System
Less exensive option than many prefabricated compost bins. System can grow if needed by adding additional pallet bays.
Can be time consuming to make. Takes up more space than other designs. Requires manual mixing.
Prefabricated Compost Bin
Prefabricated bins are widely available in a variety of different styles and costs. Sturdy design with drainage on bottom and lid for animal deterance.
Requires manual stirring and mixing. Fixed capacity - some households may need two bins to compost uninterrupted all year.
Easily available at local stores and online. Design promotes easy maintenance and animal-proof compost.
Can be expensive depending on the design. If compost is too wet, tumbler can be difficult to turn. Has a fixed capacity - may not be large enough for some families.
DIY Compost Tumbler
Less expensive than store-bought tumbler. Animal-proof design. Easy maintenance
Quality of tumbler depends on quality of materials used. Fixed capacity - may be too small for some families.
DIY Solar Digester
No maintenance - solar digesters do not produce compost, they simply digest the material into the ground. Minimal odors
No finished compost to use as material digests into soil.
Indoor composting option. Perfect for apartments and small households.
Does not accept all forms of food scraps, including onions, meat, dairy. For large households, these systems may be too small.
Understanding the Compost Recipe - The "Browns" & The "Greens"
Compost piles work most efficiently when the microorganisms - the bacteria present in your compost - have the right energy sources to decompost the material quickly. By understanding the basics about compost recipes, you should be able to work with readily-available materials to build a functioning compost pile.