How Is It Done?

Recipe to Build a Pile


  • 50% Brown Materials (leaves, hay or straw, dead plants; carbon source)
  • 25% Green materials (grass clippings)
  • 25% Soil or compost soil contains microorganism that help to break down materials)
  • 100% of a compost pile

Step by Step

  1. Start with a layer of brush or branches
  2. Add layers of leaves, grass clippings, and soil, then repeat
  3. As you build the pile, dampen layers with water. Keep the pile as damp as a wrung out sponge.
  4. Turn pile from time to time. Could be once a week, or once a month depending on how much you want to do it.
A diagram of a compost pile, which reads, "Water... Soil... Leaves... Grass... Equals Compost.

Turning Your Pile


One of the keys to a successful compost pile to turn the pile from time to time. This helps your pile in a couple of ways:

  • Can help to alleviate some odors
  • Speeds up decomposition
Turning everyday could be detrimental causing all the heat in the center of the pile to escape. Instead, try turning once week and see how that works.

Using the Finished Product


Finished compost can be used in the following ways:

  • Add to your garden in the spring or fall. Turn the garden soil and apply a 1 - 3 inch layer of compost.
  • Compost can be mixed with either garden soil or potting soil in a 50-50 ratio to use for container gardening. The compost adds nutrients and texture to encourage plant growth.
  • Compost can also be used as a mulch. Spread compost around any garden plants, under bushes, and around trees. For young plants, a 2 - 3 inch layer of compost often works well. Mulching helps hold in moisture, reduces weeds, and gradually feeds organic matter to the soil and plant roots. Compost is especially useful as mulch in the hottest, driest periods of the summer.
The Department of Public Services has more information sheets on compost. Call 248-246-3300 for yours today.