Building Your Own Compost Pile
- The composting pile should be at least 1 cubic yard (3' x 3'
x 3'). Ideal size is a 3 to 5 foot square.
- Locate the composting pile on level, well-drained ground near
a water source.
- Stay away from wooden fences and buildings.
- Don’t set up over shallow tree roots.
- Mix Greens (for nitrogen) with Browns (for carbon) at a 2:1
- Moisten materials as you add them and leave a concave depression
at the top of the pile to capture rain. The composting pile should
be kept about as damp as a wrung out sponge. It is a good idea
to cover the composting pile during periods of very high moisture.
- Add water as needed to maintain correct moisture.
- Turn, fluff or aerate the composting pile every week.
- The composting is complete (approximately 3 to 6 months) when
it is dark brown-black, crumbly and sweet smelling. The temperature
of the pile will also drop to ambient air temperature from a composting
temperature of 120° - 150° F (48° - 66° C)
when composting is complete.
- Age one month after removal from your bin before using as a
soil amendment (it should be fully decomposed!).
||Turn more frequently, add Browns if
|Pile too wet
||Turn more frequently, add Browns if necessary
|Pile does not get hot
||Pile too small
|Organics not degrading
||Check moisture, turn more frequently, add Greens, fresh
manure, blood meal or urea
||Remove and stop adding food scraps,
turn more frequently and keep moist
||Bury food scraps under one foot of material and put
pallet on top as lid
||Keep moist and turn more frequently
Building a Composting Pile
- A composting pile is a simple heap of yard waste.
- In order to keep the pile manageable, try to limit the size
to 5 feet high and 5 feet wide.
- Contain the heap by piling it against an existing wire fence
or digging a 10 – 15 inch pit beneath it.
a Portable Composting Bin
- ¼ A portable composting bin is best made of woven wire
(e.g., hardware cloth with ½" openings).
- ¼ Need from 11 ft. to 23 ft. of hardware cloth 3 ft. wide.
- ¼ Tie the ends together with hooks or wire.
- You can also build a framed composting bin with treated lumber
and hardware cloth.
- Remember to try to limit the framed bin's size to 5' x 5' x
5' with a minimum of 3' x 3' x 3'.
Building a Pallet Bin
- Need 5 pallets with slat spacing of ½" – 1".
- Place 1 pallet with slats up on the ground.
the remaining pallets upright (short sides up) around each side
of the base to form a box.
- Attach the sides at each corner with wire, coat hangers, rope,
- Sides last 4 to 6 years; replace as needed.
- Bottom lasts 1 to 2 years; drop another fresh pallet over the
old base when needed.
- By using a total of 9 pallets you can transform the pallet bin
into a multi-bin unit.
- Add a 2nd bottom pallet next to the side of the 1st bin.
- Fasten the 3 additional pallets around it. Making sure it is
tied into the 1st bin.
- Use the 2nd bin to aerate the composting pile by move the composting
pile from 1 side to the other.
- By adding a 3rd bin (4 additional pallets), you can also have
a bin to store the finished compost in while it cures for the
month after composting is complete.
- In addition to the bins you make yourself, there are a number
of ready-made bins currently on the market and available at local
Composting information courtesy of the Maryland
Department of the Environment