You’ll quickly recoup your initial investment of time and money.
Spend less time hauling the materials to the recycling center and
money spent on soil amendments.
Most importantly, you’ll boost the health and beauty of your
landscape while helping the environment.
Start by looking for spaces in the landscape or garden where
compostable materials can easily be moved into the bin, pile turned,
and the finished compost harvested and transported into the garden
where it is needed. You found a place to stow the trash cans without
ruining the beauty of your landscape or offending your neighbors, so
do the same with your compost area.
Purchase or build a compost bin that matches your landscape style.
Some bins are built to be an attractive addition to the landscape
while others are designed to fade into the garden and go unnoticed.
Try using materials similar to your fence, shed or other structures.
Situate the bin, so it appears to be an extension of these or an
additional garden feature.
Speed up the composting process by creating a pile at least three
feet tall and wide. Use only insect- and disease-free materials. Do
not include meat, fat, bones, or dairy products that can attract
rodents or weeds and invasive plants that can survive most
composting and end up back in your garden.
Mix nitrogen rich green materials such as vegetable scraps, and
herbicide-free grass clippings and carbon rich browns such as
cornstalks, evergreen needles and tree leaves. Top this 8 to 10”
layer with compost and sprinkle three cups of a low nitrogen slow
release fertilizer, like Milorganite (milorganite.com), over this
layer. The organic nitrogen helps feed the microorganisms that break
down the raw materials into compost. Continue layering with plant
debris, compost and fertilizer until the pile is at least three feet
Use plants to screen the compost process. Place a simple wire bin in
the middle of the garden. It’s convenient; since this is the place
you generate garden debris and use much of the finished product. The
surrounding plantings will hide the bin.
Or place your bin behind a garden border of tall grasses, shrubs or
other permanent plantings. Make sure your neighbors’ view is equally
as nice. Leave sufficient room for adding materials to compost,
turning the pile if needed and harvesting the compost.
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Team up with your neighbors to create more gardening and composting
space. Design a shared garden and compost area across the lot line.
Use steppers for easy access and beautify both yards with attractive
plantings. You’ll each enjoy the extra garden space and valuable
compost you create.
Up the ornamental appeal a bit more by installing a decorative fence
as a backdrop for one of your garden beds. Design the screen to run
parallel to a fence or hedge along the lot line. Leave enough space
between the two structures for composting, storing mulch, shredded
leaves, garden stakes and more. Include a gate or entryway along the
side for easy access.
Once you start exploring options, your creativity will help you
build a composting space suited to your needs. Then get ready to
enjoy the increased beauty and productivity that the compost will
provide in your gardens and containers.
Gardening expert Melinda
Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has
written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and
the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to
Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the
nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments.
Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms
magazine and spokesperson for Milorganite. Myers’ website is