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6 steps to making compost at home

Here you’ll find our 6-step guide to making compost including the best materials to use and what not to include.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

compost being filled

Key steps

  • Compost items like fruit and vegetable scraps, and grass cuttings.

  • Never use meat or oils used to cook meat as they attract rodents.

  • Combine your ingredients.

  • Keep the compost damp.

  • Turn the compost when it reaches 50-65 degrees Celsius.

  • When the compost is dry, brown and crumbly it’s ready to use.

Compost is a garden must-have that plays a key role in the soil's health. Did you know you can make your own compost using cardboard, paper towels, fruit and veg peelings and many other materials? 

Here we’ll show you how to make compost at homeincluding what materials to use (and avoid) when making compostand we’ll explain why it’s beneficial for all households.

Take care to only use appropriate materials in your compost, as the wrong ones will not only attract pests but could lead to damaging effects on your garden.

What is composting? A quick explanation

Composting is the process by which organic materials, such as fruit and peel, decompose to produce a soil-boosting end product known as compost. There are two types of composting: cold and hot.

Cold composting is the process of collecting garden waste, and organic materials from your kitchen, such as fruit, vegetable peels, eggshells and coffee grounds and filters. You place them into a bin, and within a year or so the material decomposes to produce compost.

Hot composting is a faster process (it can take between 1 and 3 months instead of over a year). You require 4 ingredients: nitrogen, carbon, air and water (they help in the decay process). However, we recommend this process for experienced gardeners only. 

How to make compost at home: a step-by-stepguide to composting

Now you know what composting is, here is our step-by-step guide for how to make a compost binthrive in your back garden.

  1. What to compost.There are a number of items that you can add to your compost, these include:

    • Fruit scraps such as banana and orange peel

    • Vegetable scraps such as carrot peel

    • Coffee grounds (and biodegradable coffee filters)

    • Eggshells

    • Grass and plant clippings

    • Dry leaves

    • Finely chopped wood and bark chips

    • Shredded newspaper

    • Straw.

  2. What not to compost. Here are a few things you should avoid adding to your compost:

    • Meat and oils used to cook meat (these will attract rodents and other pests)

    • Diseased plant materials, this will affect your final compost so it can’t be used to help grow plants in the future

    • Pressure-treated wood

    • Dog and/or cat faeces

    • Weeds that go to seed such as dandelions

    • Dairy products.

  3. Combine your green and brown ingredients. Brown materials are those such as fallen leaves and straw (which add carbon). Green materials are those such as kitchen scraps, horse manure and grass trimmings (which add nitrogen). The best ratio for compost is 3-parts brown and 1-part green.

  4. Keep the compost damp. You should take care that compost isn’t waterlogged, as this will kill essential microorganisms that help the decomposition process.

  5. Turn your compost. Check the temperature of your compost. When it reaches between 50-65 degrees Celsius, it’s time to turn the pile.

  6. When is your compost ready? The compost is ready to use to feed your garden when it no longer gives off heat. It will become dry, brown and crumbly and look more like soil than scraps.

Now you have a simple guide for how to make compost, including what you can (and can’t!) use, and should have an understanding of why it’s beneficial. With these easy steps, you can now start to create this must-have product and keep your garden healthy.

Browse our sustainability section on Cleanipedia for more advice on how to make your home, and garden, more eco-friendly.

Frequently asked questions on making compost

What is compost, and why should I make it at home?

Compost is a nutrient-rich soil amendment made from decomposed organic matter such as food scraps, yard waste, and paper products. Making compost at home helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, improves soil health, and can save money on fertilizer.

How long does it take to make compost at home?

The time it takes to make compost at home can vary depending on factors such as temperature, moisture, and the materials used. Generally, it takes between 2-6 months for compost to be fully broken down and ready to use.

What materials can I compost at home?

You can compost a variety of organic materials, including fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, yard waste such as grass clippings and leaves, and shredded paper products such as newspaper and cardboard.

Originally published