Science of Composting

Successful composting involves balancing nitrogen and carbon-based materials (brown leaves and woody materials and green grass or food waste) with water and oxygen.


The carbon component (the brown stuff: dead leaves, woody materials and dried brown grass) should constitute 75% of the compost pile.


The remaining 25% should be the nitrogen-rich component (the green stuff: fresh grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps).


The organisms that make compost require a warm, moist environment. The pile should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge, but not dripping wet. Let rain replace moisture, and add water during dry spells. A cover helps retain moisture in hot weather.


Compost critters need oxygen, just as we do. Lack of oxygen will slow down the composting process and cause odors.

What to Add to Your Pile

  • Coffee Grounds
  • Grass Clippings
  • Leaves
  • Shredded Paper (low grade)
  • Tea Leaves
  • Vegetable and Fruit Scraps
  • Wilted Flowers, Small Prunings
  • Wood Chips
  • Yard Trimmings/Old Plants

What Not to Add to Your Pile

  • Ashes and Charcoal
  • Dairy Products
  • Fats, Grease, and Oils
  • Food Sauces
  • Invasive Weeds
  • Meat, Fish, and Poultry (including bones)
  • Non-organics (plastic, metal, glass, etc.)
  • Pet Feces
  • Treated Wood (or any materials containing strong preservatives or toxins)