Unless you’re an avid gardener or a professional, then composting may sound like a difficult, unnecessary and tedious task. However, while it may sound complicated, composting is actually significantly easier than you may think, not only helping your plants to grow, but also helping the planet by recycling goods. When starting anything new in the gardening world, it can seem confusing, so we have put together a beginners guide to composting to help you perfect your composting skills.
Our Comprehensive Beginners Guide To Composting
What better way to get rid of your used tea bags and coffee grounds than to pop them into the garden to completely transform your landscape. Around 25 per cent of waste in landfills is food and lawn; however, because the components are unable to react with oxygen due to the high density of a landfill, it means that it isn’t able to decompose. This makes composting at home or for your commercial landscape one of the most economically friendly options that not only benefits the planet, but our gardens as well!
If you’re new to the composting world, or you haven’t quite mastered the art of perfecting your compost, then hopefully this guide will lend you a helping hand. Continue reading for more in-depth advice on the following:
To start your journey to becoming an expert in all things garden related, it is first necessary to understand what compost is and what it consists of. In simple terms, compost is an organic element such as leaves or grass clippings that breaks down and decomposes to form compost. This is usually a dark and dirt-like soil that is extremely rich in nutrients, making it ideal for plants that need repairing, growing, or simply require some extra care. Having provided professional commercial landscaping in Milton Keynes for many years, we know the importance of maintaining your landscape and plants; it can have a significant impact on how vibrant they look and whether they make it to next summer through the rainy and cold winter months.
A mixture of general waste as well as natural matter such as leaves can make the best for of compost. For this reason, we would advise creating a compost bin where you can put general waste that naturally decomposes over time and layer it with organic matter form the garden. Here is a general guide to the different foods and elements that you can use for your compost and others you should not use:
|Compost||DO NOT Compost|
|Grass clippings||Diseased plants|
|Hay||Human or pet waste|
|Fruit & veg peels/scraps||Meat|
|Tea bags||Dairy products|
|Coffee grounds||Animal food products|
|Untreated wood||Cooked Food|
|Shredded paper||Peanut butter|
|Dryer lint||Paper with ink on it|
If you would like to help your compost to break down even faster, then composting may become a little harder to understand as there are certain types of compost that work best for nourishing your soil. The perfect compost bin will consist of around one part nitrogen-rich greens for every 20 part carbon-rich browns:
- Green Compost – food waste, vegetable peels, garden clippings/waste.
- Brown Compost – fresh leaves, coffee grounds/tea bags, fruit scraps, bark.
You will also want to make sure to keep your compost spaced out to ensure that oxygen is able to travel through the pile to allow for it to thoroughly decompose. To achieve this, all you will need to do is place a layer of brown compost in the bin, wet it and then place a layer of twigs over the top before adding your layer of green compost and continue repeating. For the ultimate and nutritious compost, we would advise adding some soil from your garden to the top of the compost pile, which will help to speed up the process.
Not only is composting your waste easy to do, but it also comes alongside an abundance of benefits. Other benefits not only include those that help your greenery to grow stronger and quicker, but it can also help with other aspects such as money-saving and helping the environment. Here are just a few of the many benefits that come with creating your own compost bin:
Recycling Household Waste
If you have a recycling bin and are strict when it comes to recycling your plastics, then you are already on the right tracts to composting. It doesn’t take much effort to ensure that your organic waste is popped into a separate bin, which not only reduces your waste, but can also help the environment by reducing landfill waste. You can find out more information about how landfill waste effects not only the planet but also your health, on Little Mountain Learning Academy.
Much like you would condition your hair, soil also needs a little TLC every now and then. Compost is full of rich nutrients that can help the soil, which will, therefore, help to nourish plants as the soil is able to retain moisture. Not only this, but by compositing, it also provides the soil with microscopic and beneficial microorganisms which can help further nourish the soil as well help to safeguard your plants and landscape from disease. Disease can significantly impact plants, as it not only affects its appearance but can also affect the roots. If the disease takes over the plants, then it may be necessary to completely remove the plant altogether. As specialists in landscaping in Bedford and the surrounding areas, we have the equipment and expertise to help you identify whether a tree or other plants are in danger of disease or have been infected. If this is the case, then the team are able to safely remove the infected plant/tree without damaging the surroundings. Please feel free to contact the team about our range of landscaping services, such as our grounds maintenance in Buckingham and the surrounding areas.
Protects The Environment
There are two main ways in which composting your landscape can help the environment. The first being the issue previously discussed around landfill waste, and the other being the reduced use of chemicals. Using chemicals on your landscape can have extremely detrimental impacts on our health as well as the environment, causing further pollution and entering our water as the rain washes the chemical fertiliser into rivers and lakes. The best, and easiest way to reduce this issue, is by using organic fertilisers such as those in your compost bin. This makes it ideal for both domestic and commercial property owners, and it can reduce your carbon footprint and increase your sustainability.
Not only can composting reduce the use of chemical fertilisers which are damaging to the environment, but it can also save you money by not having to purchase the fertilisers. Purchasing chemical fertilisers can be extremely expensive, especially if you own a large commercial property. Due to the cost of upkeep, many businesses neglect their landscape, which can have a dramatic impact on the appearance of the property. By keeping up with maintenance, you can ensure that your property looks modern, professional and presentable.
There are various different solutions when it comes to your compost bin, some of which are more on the higher end of the price bracket. One solution is to purchase a compost container, which has been specifically designed to speed up the decomposition process by allowing you to control the temperature and moisture inside the container. While it is one of the best options available, it may not suit everyone’s budget, making homemade compost bins one of the best solutions available. Why not try one of the following methods:
The Heap/Pile Method
This method is best for those that have an area dedicated to your compost, and is not close to the property or visible on-site, as it requires a ‘freestyle’ method whereby you start layering the compost on the ground in a heap. While this is completely free to do, making it an extremely cost-effective solution, not all sites prohibit you from having an open compost area on site. It is important to make sure that you check with your landlord as to whether you will be able to implement this option, as you could find yourself with warnings, or in worst-case scenarios fines. To minimise the risk of the compost attracting pests and animals, we would advise to either cover your compost pile with grass, or surround it with a wooden fence.
The Trenching Method
An alternative for a freestyle compost pile is to have a trench; this option is better in terms of not creating an eyesore or attracting animals. A trench is created by burying the organic matter into an 8-inch or deeper trench and allow nature to take its course. This method is most commonly used when someone is completely transforming their garden by ripping up the landscape, placing the compost on the ground in a trench and then planting trees, plants and shrubbery on top of the trench. By doing this, you can allow the landscape to grow back nourished and full of vibrancy.
DIY Garbage Bin
One of the easiest and most commonly used solutions is to transform a standard bin into a compost bin. However, this is more ideal for small properties, as the more area you have, the more compost you will generate and require. You can purchase a cheap plastic or rubber bin with a secure lid and use a drill to create five holes in the lid, sides and bottom of the bin. This will help with airflow, which is extremely important in the breakdown of the organic matter.
DIY Wire Bin
A wire bin is one of the most effective compost bins that you can create yourself, as it provides structure to the compost while maximising air flow. You can either purchase one online or make your own by placing three to four stakes into the ground in a rectangle shape. You will then need to purchase 10 feet of 36-inch wide wire or a plastic mesh and stretch it around the stake. If you are using wire, then you will need to wrap it around the stakes to form a rectangle, cut the end and secure it by twisting each ends together and continue until you formed a container.
When it comes to composting your waste, realistically all you will need is a bin and the organic wastes itself. However, depending on the size of your landscape and which compost bin option you choose, you may need some of the following tools:
- Gloves – you will need a good pair of tear-resistant and thick gloves, which will help to protect your hands when moving the compost into the bin or scattering it over your soil.
- Aerator – this will aid you to mix the heap around helping it to decompose quicker.
- Pitchfork – much like the aerator, a pitchfork can help with decomposing as it allows you to poke holes in the compost every now and then.
- Screens – as you would use a sieve for flour, a screen helps you to sift through the compost and anything that falls through is ready to be used.
- Shovels – a shovel can help you transfer the compost from the bin onto the area in need of the compost. It is best to use a flat headed shovel for this stage.
- Wheelbarrow – if you have a larger property, then a wheelbarrow will come in handy when transferring the compost to a location further away from the bin.
Seeing Results With Your Compost
A compost pile may take around a year to fully decompose, but the process can be pushed by following the steps listed above. Ensuring that you regularly water the compost and allow air to thoroughly flow through, will help you to speed up the process of decomposing. We would recommend using your pitchfork or aerator to poke holes and rotate the compost at least once a week to help with airflow as the more often you rotate it, the quicker it will decompose.
It is important to note that compost should not smell, as you are using organic material. If the compost does give off a foul smell, then you may be putting the wrong matter into the compost. For further information, or for landscape maintenance in Milton Keynes or the surrounding areas, please feel free to contact the team.