Where to put your compost heap or trash can (2023)

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compost guide

Home Composting Tips

Any pile of organic matter will eventually rot, but a well-chosen location can speed up the process. Find a level, well-drained area. If you plan to add kitchen scraps, keep them handy at the back door. Don't place it so far away that you miss the stack. In colder latitudes, keep the battery in a sunny location to retain solar heat. Find some shelter to protect the pile from cold winds that can slow down the decomposition process. In hot, dry latitudes, protect the pile in a more shady location so that it does not dry out too quickly.

Build the pile on dirt or turf, rather than concrete or asphalt, to take advantage of earthworms, beneficial microbes, and other decomposers, which will migrate up and down as the seasons change. Bare soil also allows for drainage. If tree roots are spreading their roots into the pile, turn the pile frequently so they cannot advance.

Find a location that allows for discreet composting, especially if you have neighboring yards nearby. Look for the distance and visual barriers between the pile and the neighbors.

  1. My interest in composting arose from the need to keep residential areas clean. In our neighborhood today, leaves and other debris accumulate on the roadsides and must be swept up frequently and hauled to a landfill or disposed of elsewhere. I wonder if we can't dig holes in the sides of roads, space permitting, and sweep leaves, grass and other non-plastic debris into these holes which, after 3-4 months (give or take), decompose into manure. . If this can be done, it can help keep the neighborhood clean and tidy with minimal effort and also save a lot of money. Readers can advise useful tips for this. Also, is there a chance of smell?
    My wife has an open space enclosed by a brick fence and she throws leaves, grass, and vegetable/fruit peels and within a few months harvests high-quality manure that is used to fertilize the plants in the backyard. It never emanated any odor. She would greatly appreciate any helpful advice/suggestions. Thank you.


    1. @Harish Capoor yes that will work but be aware that you might start to attract rodents if you haven't already. Try to keep fruit and vegetable peels buried at the bottom of the pile.


  2. I can compost in a very sturdy heavy plastic tub. Lid on or off.


    1. Rosalyn, yes you can. However, I recommend that you poke a few holes in the bottom for the water to drain out. You can place another container below to collect the compost tea. Organic material will break down anyway, so by using a container or cup you are simply creating an ideal environment to speed up the process. You may want to drill or cut holes in the sides and top as well, this will give it the oxygen it needs to decompose. Rotate it every week or two.


  3. I have 2-3 year old compost in the ground, my town told me I need to move the compost because it is killing my neighbor's pine tree. can this happen? And what rate do I have to move it? Thanks for the help

    (Video) How to Compost in Small Spaces Using a Trash Can


    1. @Arnie I haven't heard of this problem with a pine tree, but I've heard that some trees don't do well if their exposed roots are covered, it has something to do with the oxygen they need. Be nice and move it at least the distance of the longest branch. Typically, the branches indicate the extent of the roots; so if you go beyond the roots you will be fine.


      1. The reason it is killing the pine is because of the acidity of the soil, which has probably changed from high to low acidity. Low acidity will result in a slow death for the pines and they can go decades looking terrible. As for the roots, it depends on the pine. Some have very shallow root structures and others have extensive roots that can span a field.

  4. Hello. My husband was trying to help out and sprayed some Round-Up on the area I'm going to place my compositor on (open at the bottom) to kill Bermuda/St. Agustín Grass will sit down. I was horrified and now scared to put my composer in this place because I fear contamination from the rodeo. Is this a valid concern? If so, what do you recommend I do to clear the area... if possible? Also, how should I worry about putting it on the lawn? I was thinking that grass would grow on compost.


    1. @Ellen

      I wouldn't worry too much about that. Roundup is designed to become inert once it hits the ground, unless you are using that "extended" formula that contains a different herbicide. So if you've waited a few days, there should be no problem, assuming it's normal Roundup.

      Additionally, compost can be used to remediate contaminated soil, as studied by the EPA.

      Grass won't grow in the composter because it's dark in there and it likes full sun. You can use an herbicide on the edge of the box to keep the grass from growing tall around the box.


  5. Thank you so much for this great information…you really put me at ease!


  6. I have a compost tire and a bin has household and garden clippings from various products and there seems to be a lot of little nats in the bin, what's wrong?


    1. Jim, the mosquitoes could be fruit flies, they are harmless but annoying. When adding fruit scraps, be sure to bury them deep in the compost and keep them well mixed (aerated).


  7. We just bought a compost bin. We live in a high desert area and have no grass, few leaves, and few pine needles. What can we use for the carbon component of the mix? Thank you.

    (Video) Where to Place Your Compost Bin - Composting Tips


    1. @Ireland

      You can compost mostly with nitrogen and almost no carbon. It's just not as fast or efficient to compost this way. Since you're in the high desert, the nitrogen-rich material should dry out and probably won't cause bad odors like excess nitrogen does in wetter areas. You can add some shredded newspaper for the charcoal in a pinch, but don't overdo it.

      In the end, everything collapses. So if you can't get the perfect mix of carbon and nitrogen, you'll still be fine.


  8. We have a neighborhood garden that is about 70'x80' and we need to add compost before spring planting. We started a compost pile, but I don't think we'll have much ready to go this spring, so we'll have to buy some. Can anyone give me an idea how to calculate how much we are going to need? Thank you!


    1. @Shari, you'll probably want to till 3 inches of compost into your existing soil. You would need just over 50 meters of compost to accomplish this.


  9. Thanks Steve, this is exactly what I was looking for!


  10. My neighbor has a compost bin that attracts rodents. What should I do. I'm about to build a retaining wall to take care of some erosion and I've asked the neighbor to consider moving the compost bin. He said it's more troublesome than I think. How do I get this neighbor to "think" my way? I don't want rodents in my garden. Aid


    1. @Eric, rodents are generally attracted to compost piles if they are a food source. If your neighbor tries to bury kitchen scraps inside the pile, he can prevent rodents from smelling the food. If not, he will try to get some live animal traps and relocate the creatures when they are caught.


  11. How much water does a compost bin need?


    1. @Cornelia you should keep your stuff in your composter as wet as a well wrung out sponge.


      (Video) How to start a compost bin
  12. I just noticed my neighbor's dog peeing in my compost bin. Is it time to empty it, move it and start over?


    1. @gerri

      It's not a big deal, and I wouldn't worry about it. Urine is not a problem. Feces from carnivores or omnivores may contain pathogens, but urine is not usually a problem. I've even heard of an organic gardening expert recommending peeing directly on his compost to add nitrogen that way, believe it or not.


  13. Is it better to put a compost roll in the sun or does it still decompose in the shade? If it's going to be in the shade longer, how much longer?


    1. @D0nna it's best to place your compost tumbler in the sun, this will help generate heat faster and thus speed up the composting process. If you live in a cold climate, you can double the time it takes to break. If you live in a hot climate, it will help you a little less.


      1. Thank you for the quick response! Today is my birthday and the cup is a gift. He'll be here any minute now and he wanted to keep in mind where he needed to go.


  14. I just moved my compost bin across the yard into the house so it's easily accessible. I'm concerned that this may attract unwanted bugs. I've read previous answers about keeping rodents away, but what about bugs?


    1. @Lisa, The key to keeping bugs away is to make your compost bin as active as possible. If you're the type of person who just lets it slide and doesn't aerate, water, or mix well, there's a good chance you have some bugs. However, keeping it mixed and burying kitchen scraps well inside the compost bin will help make it less attractive to insects.


  15. Should a compost bin be placed inside a house or building?



    (Video) CHEAP and EASY Composting Method.. 32 Gallon Trash Bin
    1. @Drew, a composter can be stored indoors, but you'll need to make sure your composter has some kind of bottom to collect the liquids etc.


  16. I am putting together an open bottom plastic compost bin. (Ketter E-Composter) The floor I want to place it on has barrier fabric installed. Do I need to cut the fabric under the trash can area?



    1. @Karin yes, I would cut the weed barrier fabric so the worms can come and go from the soil to your composter. You don't have to if you don't want worms in your compost.


  17. I used to hate gardening and any kind of yard work as it was a never ending chore. She even neglected to mow the grass. Add allergies to the mix and I was convinced it would never be for me! I became a reluctant gardener about 3-4 years ago when I came home to help care for my elderly mother. She has a large front and back yard with various garden areas in all conditions, brimming with various plants, flowers, herbs, weeds, etc. She can't deal with any of it anymore, but she loves and hates removing anything that grows…grass or not…sigh.
    Fast forward a few years... I found out that gardening is my new hobby. Very nice! It's relaxing, rewarding, and gets my creative juices flowing. Even as a beginner, I still have a lot to learn and spend a lot of time researching and planning to get the most out of my time and resources. Also, my mom is so happy with the results that she has given me full control of the patios to build however I want. She now goes out and tends the garden with me and, at 85 years old, she has done wonders for her health and behavior.
    I am so excited to start this year and finding your site today has been such a blessing. All the information you were looking for to do the job right. With your help, I won't be a beginner much longer and the gardens will be a neighborhood highlight.
    Now my question: My niece has a pet chinchilla that uses straw and hay for bedding and cage lining. Are the materials used suitable/safe for composting or better yet mulching? I can shake off any seeds from his food that might sprout, as well as poop, but what about the urine?
    I manage all gardening on a very small budget, so any other suggestions you have for free or inexpensive mulch materials would be appreciated. I think I now have the compound under control after reading your articles.
    I appreciate! Thanks again.


  18. Hello, I just bought a garden bag. Similar to builders sandbags. I have a small garden and I don't know where to put my compost bag. The only part that gets the sun is where the table and chairs are and I'm worried that the compost bag will smell. You could place it at the bottom of the garden, since the area is very shady and does not get the sun. Would it still be okay to put my compost bag in there? I live in the UK.


  19. I have a question and I hope you have an answer. I have a large compost barrel that sits on the ground. This last rain caused our saltwater pond to rise and the saltwater got into my barrel. When the water resided, the barrel was drained. Do you have any answers or ideas for the compound? Can I continue from here or do I have to start over?
    Thanks for your time.


  20. I have placed my new plastic composter on stone slabs at the side of my house, I just need to know
    A. Is it okay or does it have to be on grass/ground?
    B. Will it start to smell bad in the next few months?



leave a reply


Where should I put my compost heap? ›

Position the bin in light shade or shade; it is often more convenient to use a shady area of the garden. An earth base allows drainage and access to soil organisms, but if you have to compost on a hard surface, then add a spadeful of soil to the compost bin.

Where is the best place to put a compost pile for home composting? ›

Find the right site - ideally site your bin in a reasonably sunny place on bare soil. Choose somewhere you can easily add ingredients to the bin and get the compost out.

Where is the best place to put your bin *? ›

The best place for a bin is in the cleaning zone; far enough from fresh food, but near the exit to make taking it out as well as recycling easier.

Should I put my compost pile in the sun or shade? ›

Should my compost pile be in the sun or in the shade? You can put your compost pile in the sun or in the shade, but putting it in the sun will hasten the composting process. Sun helps increase the temperature, so the bacteria and fungi work faster.

Can I throw compost on top of soil? ›

You can sprinkle compost on top or mix it into your flower and vegetable beds, gently rake compost into tree beds, blend it with potting soil to revitalize indoor plants, or spread it on top of the soil on your lawn as a soil amendment.

Is it better to compost in a bin or on the ground? ›

A compost bin can speed up the process of decomposition. If proper conditions required for the process persist, you'll have access to untarnished fertilizers that you can use at home or sell. These compost bins have the advantage of making it hard for the rats to get to your compost.

How long does it take for a compost pile to be usable? ›

Decomposition will be complete anywhere from two weeks to two years depending on the materials used, the size of the pile, and how often it is turned. Compost is ready when it has cooled, turned a rich brown color, and has decomposed into small soil-like particles.

Can I put compost directly on my lawn? ›

A healthier lawn comes with healthier soil, and there is no better way to improve soil health than by adding compost. You can feed your lawn naturally by topdressing it with compost.

Where should I put my compost pile in my garden? ›

Composting works in sun or shade Piles in sunny spots will decompose quicker but also dry out faster and may need supplemental watering during hot dry weather. Those located in a shadier spot will stay moist longer but decompose slower. In either case, make sure the soil below the pile is well-drained.

What are 3 things you shouldn't compost? ›

DON'T add meat scraps, bones, grease, whole eggs, or dairy products to the compost pile because they decompose slowly, cause odors, and can attract rodents. DON'T add pet feces or spent cat liter to the compost pile. DON'T add diseased plant material or weeds that have gone to seed.

How much sun does a compost heap need? ›

Ideally, a compost pile should get at least four to six hours of sun per day. Depending on where you live, this number will fluctuate, but generally, compost needs at least a few hours of full sun exposure.

How long should compost sit before using? ›

Compost is ready to use after anywhere from one to 12 months, depending on the size of the materials placed in the compost system, the degree of management, and the intended use. Compost that will be used as a top dressing or mulch can be applied after the least amount of time.


1. What can I put in my compost bin?
(Gardens That Matter)
2. Are trash can composters worth it?
3. How To Make Compost FAST In A TRASH CAN: Turn Trash Into GOLD!
(The Millennial Gardener)
4. The Perfect Compost Recipe - How to Get Your Compost Heap Cooking!
5. Beginners guide to composting
(Wales Recycles)
6. How to: Making a compost bin for your garden for only about $20!


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