Making compost

When adding green waste to your compost bin you should aim for a balance of 50% 'greens' and 50% 'browns' to get the right mix.

Find out about:


Browns to compost

'Browns' are slower to rot, provide carbon and fibre and allow air pockets to form:

  • sawdust and wood ash (untreated wood only)
  • shredded paper and torn cardboard, (for example, egg boxes)
  • dead flowers
  • hedge prunings
  • fallen leaves

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Greens to compost

'Greens' are quick to rot and provide important nitrogen and moisture:

  • raw fruit and vegetables
  • used tea bags, leaves and coffee grounds
  • soiled pet bedding (but not cat or dog faeces)
  • egg shells
  • grass cuttings
  • stable manure and bedding
  • weeds (avoid persistent weeds and weeds in seed)

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Do not compost

Certain things should never be placed in your compost bin:

  • treated wood
  • diseased plants
  • meat, fish, bread and cheese
  • cooked leftovers
  • coal ash
  • cat and dog faeces
  • nappies
  • metals, glass or plastic
  • herbicide and weed killer products*

* If you use herbicide and weed killers, carefully consider the usage instructions before applying them on plants whose may end up in your compost bin. Where products contain Clopyralid you should not put treated plants into your brown bin or home composter.

Get more information on composting ingredients from Recycle Now.

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Tips for making compost

Most compost piles built with a half and half ratio of greens and browns with enough water and air, will shrink down to half the original volume in a few days.

Remember to turn the pile regularly through spring and summer and ensure your compost is moist, but not wet:

  • add rain water if your compost bin appears too dry
  • cover your compost bin and add dry material if it looks too wet

To speed up the composting process, add soil, finished compost or a compost accelerator - young nettles are an excellent natural accelerator!

Making leafy mulch

If you have too many leaves for your compost bin you can put the excess into a bin bag, make a few holes in it and leave in a secluded spot to rot down. It will be a great soil conditioner in a few months time.

Your compost is ready when it is dark in colour and has an earthy smell. This can take from 6 to 18 months, depending on the material used and the time of year.

Finished compost will appear at the bottom of the heap; remove this to use on your garden.

Return any materials that haven’t finished composting to the composter and keep adding new materials to keep the process going.

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Using your compost

Finished compost can be used almost anywhere on the garden (acid-loving plants don’t like compost), using a fork simply dig it into the top six inches of soils, or spread it to cover the soil.

You can also use your compost to feed your lawn or to top up tubs, planters and baskets.

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Also see

Waste, Highways and Environmental Services

Telephone: 01904 551551