Why Compost At Home?

Composting at home is one of the most effective and environmentally friendly ways of dealing with your garden waste.  Home composting also produces a useful mulch, soil conditioner or potting mix.

How to compost at home 

Home composting is easy once you get the balance right. What you need is a 50/50 mix of green and brown materials in your compost bin. It is important to site your compost in a warm area on open soil to encourage helpful worms to enter. You may need to aerate the mix at times or add small amounts of water to maintain a healthy composting environment.

Here's an article with some good ideas about how to aerate a large pile without turning.

Compost is best when it is made up of the greatest variety of plant material. A guide has been prepared on using weeds for compost and how to treat weeds you dig up in your garden.

Types of home composters

  • Fact Sheet 1: Step through our choosing the right composter factsheet for advice on factors you may want to consider when choosing a home composter option.
  • Fact Sheet 2: Our composter option factsheet details advice on which option might be best for you.
  • Fact Sheet 3: This guidance document provides more helpful advice on how to get started, how to compost through winter, building a composter out of non-standard materials, how to overcome typical problems you might find and also uses for your compost.

To handle more material, larger compost bins can easily be made from a few used wooden pallets. Gardener's World website has an excellent article showing how it's done.

Materials you can compost at home:
Green Materials


 Brown Materials


Do not put the following

in your compost bin

Cut flowers  

Paper (scrunched up)

Cooked food*

Fruit scraps & vegetable peelings


(i.e., egg box, toilet roll tubes )

 Raw meat & fish (including bones)*

Garden & house plants

Straw & Hay

Diseased plants

Grass cuttings



Coal or coke ash (small amount of wood ash is ok)

Tea leaves/bags & coffee grounds

 The contents of your vacuum cleaner

Cat or dog waste

Young annual weeds

Vegetarian pet bedding (i.e., rabbits)

 Nappies, glass, plastic or metal


*Cooked food, meat, fish and bones are fine in Green Cones, Green Johannas and Bokashi Units, but do not put these materials in a standard home composter.

Leaf Mould

Making leaf mould is a very simple process.  In six months you can have a good mulch and in 12 months a good potting compost you've made yourself.  Especially useful if you have lots of leaves, but it will work just as well with smaller amounts.

Here's some leaf mould guidance from the BBC and a Gardeners World video with Monty Don

Lawnmower mixing

Sweep leaves into the middle of the grass and simply mow over them. This chops them up and they tend to take up less space - especially as they settle. If you're making leaf mould, the process will be speeded up.  If you're composting, mix the leaves with an equal amount of grass cuttings before putting them in the compost bin and it will accelerate the composting process.

Hugel Beds

Another good idea for lots of garden waste comes from Permaculture magazine:  "Instead of putting branches, leaves and grass clippings in bags by the curbside for the bin men, build a huge bed. Simply mound logs, branches, leaves, grass clippings, straw, cardboard, petroleum-free newspaper, manure, compost or whatever other biomass you have available, top with soil and plant your veggies."

Making Compost tea:

A compost infusion sprayed onto plants that are being attacked by pests or diseases can benefit plants and prevent diseases from spreading.

  • Take mature compost, fill a bucket with one part compost to five parts water.
  • Stir, cover and leave to ferment for 10 days.
  • Then, strain into another bucket, leave to settle and then spray the liquid onto affected plants.

This can be repeated after two or three weeks.  Crops that have been treated with compost tea should be washed before consuming and it should not be used on leafy vegetables that are to be eaten raw.

See also:

Last updated: Friday, September 17, 2021 1:08 PM