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How to Compost

compost bin

Compost Bins

Use compost to build healthy soil. Build a compost bin (PDF, 396 K) or purchase one (PDF, 118 K) at local nurseries and garden stores.

  1. Choose a location in your yard that is out of the way but within reach of the garden hose and not too far to haul the materials. A partly shady location is good.
  2. Select a compost method (PDF, 118 K) – a covered compost bin or a brush pile.
  3. Layer yard waste, mixing browns (twigs or dry leaves) with greens (grass clippings or vegetable garden waste), and moisten each layer. King County recommends that kitchen waste be composted separately.
  4. Check the pile or container every week or so and keep it damp. Use a garden fork to mix and turn the pile occasionally. Yard waste breaks down in three to six months, faster inside of a closed bin, slower in a brush pile.
  5. Harvest the compost by removing the earthy humus that has accumulated at the bottom. The compost can be screened or not, depending on your intended use. Use the remaining materials to begin the composting process again.

Compost Equipment

  • Compost bin (PDF, 118 K) (optional)
  • Stiff-tined garden fork to turn and fluff the compost
  • Garden hose that will reach from the faucet to the compost pile
  • Compost thermometer (optional)
  • Yard waste, including leaves, grass clippings, vegetable garden waste, flower garden waste and twigs

For online video tips on composting, visit the Department of Water and Land Resources' Yard Talk Web site.

Related Information

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Updated: Oct. 17, 2012


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