What is Composting?

Composting is a simple process of layering your materials with a bit of soil in a pile and turning them once in awhile. The more sophisticated you are with combining materials, checking moisture and turning, the faster your pile will "cook" down to a useable humus.

Compost loosens the soil to allow better root penetration, improves the soil’s capacity to hold water and nutrients, adds essential nutrients to the soil, and improves the health of plants.


Why should I make COMPOST?

Composting is a practical and convenient way to handle your yard waste. It can be easier and cheaper than bagging these wastes or taking them to a composting facility.

Compost also improves your soil and the plants growing in it.

Compost can be used to enrich the flower and vegetable garden, to improve soil around trees and shrubs, as a soil amendment for houseplant and planter boxes.


What’s compostable? (and what isn’t?)

Learning the basics: "Green" and "Brown"

Like any simple recipe, you’ll get the best results if you use the right mix of ingredients to make your compost. The key materials are nitrogen-rich "greens," carbon-rich "browns," water, and air. All of these are essential, but they’re easy to mix together for quality compost.

Greens provide nitrogen, and act as a source of protein for the microbes that are hard at work in your compost pile.

  • Green leaves
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Plant trimmings
  • Raw fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Hair

Browns are a source of carbon, and provide energy for the microbes.

  • Dried grasses, leaves and some weeds
  • Straw
  • Woodchips
  • Twigs and branches
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Corncobs and stalks

As living things, the microbes in your compost pile need water and air to work and live. Water allows microbes to grow and travel around in the pile to decompose materials. Turning your pile each week with a spade or pitchfork will provide air to aid decomposition and control odors.

Just Say No!

  • Food with meat, dairy or oils
  • Pet feces (dog, cat or bird)
  • Diseased plants
  • Weeds gone to seed
  • Ash from charcoal or coal

While many materials can be composted, there are some items that you should keep out of your home compost pile. Excluding foods with meat, dairy or oils will minimize odors and keep your pile from attracting scavengers like dogs and raccoons. Since compost is generally used for a soil amendment, you want to keep if free of plant diseases and unhealthy bacteria. 

Composting Bins For Sale

The Clark County Waste Management District has a limited supply of Earth Machine compost bins (with instructions) for sale!

The cost is $40 and they can be purchased at the Recycling Center, 1602 W Main Street, Springfield, every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or the first Saturday of each month from 9am-12 noon.


How to Compost organics

Composting can be as simple or complex as you have time for. There are different types of composting that you may want to research to see which is right for you. The following are five ways you can compost:

  • Holding Units
  • Turning Units
  • Mulching
  • Soil Incorporation
  • Vermicomposting (composting with worms)

Holding Units

These containers for yard wastes are the least labor and time consuming way to compost.

Which wastes?
Non-woody yard wastes are the most appropriate.

Place the holding unit where it is most convenient. As weeds, grass clippings, leaves and harvest remains from garden plants are collected, they can be dropped into the unit. Chopping or shredding waste, alternating high carbon and high nitrogen materials, and keeping up good moisture and aeration will all speed the process.

Advantages & disadvantages
For yard wastes, this is the simplest method. The units can be portable, moving to wherever needed in the garden. This method can take 6 months to 2 years to compost organic materials, so you only need to be patient.

Turning Units

This is a series of three or more bins that allows wastes to be turned on a regular schedule. Turning units are most appropriate for gardeners with a large volume of yard waste and the desire to make a high-quality compost.

Which wastes?
Non-woody yard waste and kitchen wastes without meat, bones or fatty food.

Alternate the layering of high-carbon and high-nitrogen materials to approximately a 30:1 ratio. These should be moistened to the damp sponge stage. The pile temperature should be checked regularly; when the heat decreases substantially, turn the pile into the next bin. Dampen materials if they are not moist, and add more high-nitrogen material if heating is not occurring. Then make a new pile in the original bin. Repeat the process every time the first bin cools. After two weeks in the third bin, the compost should be ready for garden use.

Advantages & disadvantages
This method produces high quality compost in a short time utilizing a substantial input
of labor.


Yard wastes can be used for weed control and water retention.

Which wastes?
Woody yard wastes, leaves and grass clippings.

You can simply spread leaves or grass clippings beneath plantings. For woody materials up to 1" in diameter, rent or purchase a chipper/shredder.

Advantages & disadvantages
All yard wastes will work first as a mulch and then, as decomposition proceeds, as a soil enrichment. A disadvantage of mulching with woody yard wastes is that you may have to rent or buy equipment.

Soil Incorporation

Burying your organic wastes is the simplest method of composting.

Which wastes?
Kitchen scraps without meat, bones or fatty foods.

Everything should be buried 8 inches below the surface. Holes can be filled and covered, becoming usable garden space the following season.

Advantages & disadvantages
This is a simple method, but because of the absence of air some nutrients will be lost. Rodents and dogs can become a problem with wastes buried less than 8 inches deep.


Feeding worms in wooden bins is a good way to make high quality compost from food scraps.

Which wastes?
Kitchen scraps without meat, bones or fatty foods. Onions and citrus are not good for worms.

Fill a bin with moistened bedding such as peat moss for the worms. Rotate the burying of food wastes throughout the worm bin. Every 3-6 months the worm populations should be divided and moved to fresh bedding.

Advantages & disadvantages
Vermicomposting is a good choice for people without yard space, such as apartment residents, and produces a high-quality plant food. Successful vermicomposting usually needs more careful monitoring, as the worms will die at temperatures lower than 50 degrees or higher than 90. If too much food is added, the mixture will start to compost and can heat up past the point the worms can tolerate.


The compost has a bad odorNot enough airTurn it
The center of the pile is dryNot enough waterMoisten materials while turning the pile
The compost is damp & warm in the middle but nowhere elseToo smallCollect more material & mix the old ingredients into a new pile
The heap is damp and sweet-smelling but still will not heat up.Lack of nitrogenMix in a nitrogen source like fresh grass clippings, fresh manure, or bloodmeal


Online Resources for Composting

Ohio Composting and Manure Management Program

Cornell Composting

Composting News


BioBags (Compostable bag solution)