Composting Made Easy

Ah, composting. If you enjoy gardening (or hang around anyone who does), you may have heard about this super eco-friendly way to turn organic material into nature’s favorite magical growth material. For plants, compost is the best fertilizer around. It’s also wonderful for the earth, as a great way to reduce landfill waste and harmful carbon emissions. And summer is a great time to start because a good compost pile needs lots of heat!

Still, most folks don’t attempt to start a compost bin themselves… it seems complicated, time-consuming, messy, and like just too much work. What do you put in it? Don’t you have to turn it all the time? Plus, after you create the compost, what do you DO with it?

Composting is a (surprisingly simple) way to help reduce landfill waste and harmful carbon emissions.

Well, we did a little digging (pun intended) and discovered that composting is, in fact, incredibly simple to master. As it turns out, all you need are waste scraps, moisture, and a bit of oxygen to help reduce waste and save the planet.

Here, we give you the basic steps to create your very own compost bin and offer a few tips on what to do with the finished product:

First, find and prep your container. You can, of course, compost indoors, but this can create problems with odor and fruit flies, so we’re sticking to the outdoor methods in this post. You can compost outdoors without using a bin, but you have to be careful about making sure your pile is located away from tree or plant roots (which will suck all the nutrients out of it) and not on top of living grass. The easiest method is to find a simple container like this one from FCMP Outdoor or this one from Behrens Manufacturing. If you purchase a trashcan not made for composting, be sure to poke several holes in the bottom for moisture to drain through and set the can on top of a few bricks so that air can circulate. Check out this post on to view a list of top-rated composting containers for both indoor and outdoor use. 

Outdoor bins come in all shapes and sizes for less-mess, no-hassle composting, like this one from Behrens Manufacturing.

Next, begin the layering process and fill your can with:

  • Three inches of garden soil
  • Three inches of kitchen scraps – You can compost nearly anything except meat, fat, dairy, and bones (which attract unwanted wildlife), colored newspaper (which is often coated in a thin wax layer), and diseased yard waste (which can spread to other plants). For a full list of compostable items, visit this post on
  • Three inches of shredded newspaper – Don’t subscribe to a print paper? Find free copies at your local coffee shops, or ask your neighbors if you can take theirs when they’re done!
  • Three inches of dry leaves or grass clippings

Then, repeat. There is no need to add water or mess with turning the compost. Simply keep the lid on your can in-between filling and repeat each layer until it is full. 

Plants love compost! Even if you don’t garden yourself, you can donate it to neighbors or a local community garden.

Now what? Within about three months, your compost will be ready to use. Where, exactly? Here are just a few ideas from

  • Use it in your own garden, herb box, or potted plant collection
  • Gift it to gardening neighbors, family or friends
  • Donate it to a school, community garden, or local farm
  • Post it for free on Craiglist
  • Get it picked up curbside (more than 150 US cities offer this service)

Still think a bin is too much to handle? Check out this even easier, completely bin-less method and give it a try!