Methods of Composting at Home

There are many reasons to compost at home!

  • Reduces amount of trash your family produces
  • Turns waste into a resource
  • Unlike conventional fertilizers, compost feeds the soil which in turn improves growing conditions for plants and grasses! It also provides additional nutrients, improves soil structure, and has great water holding capacity which means you won’t need to water the garden and lawn as often.
  • Convenience of having compost on hand
    • No driving to the store and spending $10-20 for one 10 pound bag of compost

All of this makes composting at home both economically and environmentally smart.

It can be done simply and can even be accomplished in limited space. To get started, a five-gallon bucket under your sink or a kitchen counter compost container will provide the receptacle you need to capture food scraps that would otherwise end up in the garbage. Vegetables, fruits, egg shells and coffee grounds are some common items that make great compost. Plus, add in your yard leaves, paper napkins and mowed grass!

Choosing the Best Method

With so many options available, choosing the best method of home composting depends on a few factors. Consider each home composting option with these factors in mind:

  • Cost
  • Labor involved
  • Available time
  • Available space
  • Aesthetics
  • Equipment necessary
  • Use of compost

Types of Methods

  • Holding units
  • Turning units and tumblers
  • Heaps or piles
  • Pit or trench composting
  • Sheet composting or sheet mulching
  • In-vessel composting
  • Vermicomposting

This material is based upon work supported under a grant by the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Rural Utilities Service.

The Iowa Waste Reduction Center and the University of Northern Iowa are equal opportunity providers and employers.