How to Build a Pile

1.   Choosing a location
Your compost bin or pile can be located in either a sunny or shady area. It is the microbes rather than the sun that causes the pile to heat up. It should be easily accessible to water and the leaves, grass clippings etc. that you are placing in it. Do not build it against a building or fence. It should be built on a level, well–drained surface at least two feet away from a structure.

2.   Adding material
Add approximately 60% leaves or browns to 40% grass and food scraps. Remember, chopping the size of the material first increases the surface area for bacteria.

3.   Adding water
Add water as you build the pile. This way the moisture will be evenly distributed through the pile. Microbes require moisture to survive–but not too much. Keep as moist as a wrung–out–sponge.

4.   Turning a pile
Turning or mixing periodically has many benefits, including:
  • Reduces odor problems
  • Adds oxygen. Organisms need oxygen to survive
  • Breaks up compacted material
  • Helps destroy unwanted disease–causing organisms by exposing them to the lethal temperatures at the center of the pile
  • Helps maintain beneficial microbes by providing more food at the center of the pile

For faster composting:
Turn the pile if the temperature is less than 100°F or more than 150°F. Why? Because Thermophilic bacteria are the fastest at turning material into compost and prefer temperatures in the 105–140°F range.

Compost Ingredients