Composting organic waste in the garden

How to Make Compost for the Garden

Compost is one of the best things you can add to your garden. It improves drainage, adds nutrients, and helps to improve the structure of the soil.

Making your own compost is easy and will save you money in the long run. Plus, it’s a great way to recycle your kitchen and yard waste.

Ingredients for Composting

The key ingredients for making compost are carbon-rich materials (also known as “browns”), nitrogen-rich materials (also known as “greens”), water, and air. Browns are things like dead leaves, twigs, and wood chips. Greens are things like grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds. You’ll need about three times as much brown material as green material.

Hands holding ground wood chips for mulching the beds in a garden.
Wood chips compost


1. A Suitable Spot

Find a suitable spot in your yard for your compost bin or pile. It should be at least 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. If you live in an urban area, there are many different types of compost bins that you can purchase to put on your balcony or rooftop.

2. Browns and Greens

Begin by layering browns and greens in your bin or pile. Alternate between 3-4 inches of browns and 1-2 inches of greens until you’ve reached the top of your bin or pile. Be sure to chop up any large pieces of green material into smaller pieces so that they decompose more quickly.

3. Watering

Water each layer lightly as you go so that the compost stays moist but not soggy. A good way to tell if it’s too wet is if it starts to smell like rotting eggs. If this happens, add more browns to absorb the excess moisture.

A sprinkler watering a compost.
Watering compost

4. Covering

Once your bin or pile is full, cover it with a tarp or piece of wood to help retain moisture and keep out pests.

5. Let it be

Allow the compost to sit undisturbed for 3-6 months while it breaks down. Once it’s ready, it will look like dark, crumbly soil and will have a earthy smell.

6. Turn it

Use a pitchfork or shovel to turn over the compost every few weeks so that oxygen can reach all parts of the pile and help hasten the decomposition process.

A man turning a compost heap in a garden.
Turning compost

7. Done

Add your finished compost to your garden beds in the springtime and enjoy healthier plants all season long!


Making your own compost is a great way to reduce waste, save money, and improve your garden all at once. By following these simple steps, you can easily make compost that will help your plants thrive all season long.