Backyard Composting

Composting 101

Backyard compostingCompost is organic matter that has decomposed. It is dark, crumbly, earthy smelling and makes a great supplement for your garden and plants. It also helps you save money by reducing disposal costs and saves landfill space.

Compost Bins 


Basic Methods


Cold Composting

A slow process but maintenance free. Just start a pile with a mixture of green and brown material and keep adding to it. I one to two years, the material at the bottom will be compost.

Hot Composting

A quick process but needs some attention. Make it in batches in a bin, using the right ammount of green and brown material. Turn about once a week for nutrient-rich compost in two to three months.

  • Plant trimmings
  • Horse & chicken manure
  • Food scraps (enclosed bins only)
  • Twigs and stalks
  • Branches (if chipped)
  • Leaves
  • Straw
  • Course untreated wood, sawdust or shavings
  • Dry grass clippings
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Paper plates (no grease/food)

DO NOT Include

  • Clippings recently treated with herbicides
  • Diseased plants
  • Tenacious weeds
  • Morning glory
  • Dandelions
  • Noxious weeds
  • Tansy
  • Ragweed
  • Roses
  • Blackberries
  • Dog & cat feces
  • Weed seeds

Worm Bins

Shallow, enclosed systems that use live worms to convert food scraps to compost.

Food Digesters

Enclosed bins that are partially buried. A convenient way to reduce waste when you don't need compost.

Soil Incorporation

A method where food scraps are buried in the soil at least one foot deep. Care must be taken with this method because food scraps can attract pests and rodents.

Compost Bins

Can be used for food scraps but only if it is designed to keep out pests and rodents, like the Earth Machine.

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Bread and grains
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Tea bags
  • Paper towels, napkins, plates

DO NOT Include

  • Meat or animal products
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dairy (cheese, butter, etc.)
  • Oily foods


Learn More

The Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County offers in-depth informationfree workshops and online assistance from a master composter.

  • Dirt Works, located on Alta Drive off Capital Mall Drive, behind Yauger Park and the Apple Park Apartments.
  • Closed Loop Park, located off Hogum Bay Road at the Thurston County Waste & Recovery Center (Take Exit 111 north, off of I-5).
  • The Farmer's Market, located downtown at the north end of Capitol Way.