Enviromental Resources

How to Compost

Every year in Texas, nearly 4 million tons of yard trimmings in the form of leaves, grass, tree limbs, weeds and other organic debris end up in Texas landfills. That's about 20 percent of all trash in municipal landfills. It costs Texans about $250 million a year to collect and landfill yard trimmings. Putting these yard trimmings to use instead of throwing them away makes sense and cents for all Texans.

Composting is one of six recommendation to avoid land filling and protect t water supplies. Other recommended yard care techniques include reusing grass clippings and leaves, mulching, Xeriscaping, common-sense watering, and low impact pest management.

What is Compost?

Compost is what happens when leaves, grass clippings, vegetable and fruit scraps, wood chips, straw and small twigs are combined and allowed to break down into a crumbly, dark brown humus material with soil like texture.

Bacteria, fungi, and insects break down yard waste. The bacteria and fungi (microbes) need water, air and food (your yard trimmings) to start and continue the breakdown process.

Compost is one of nature's best mulches and soil amendments. By composting and mulching, you can save money by reducing your fertilizer and landscaping bills, lowering your water bills, and spending less on trash pickup or disposal.

Why Compost?

Composting provides an almost constant source of free fertilizer and soil conditioner. The organic materials in the compost help your plants grow by loosening the soil and allowing better root penetration.

Compost increases microbial activity, which creates a healthier environment for plant growth. The texture of compost improves moisture retention in your soil and can reduce your water bills. Compost has all the nutrients that plants require unlike chemical fertilizers Compost even helps moderate the ph of your soil.

Through regular use of compost, you can drastically reduce or even eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides which saves money and reduces contamination of our waterways and drinking water.

Most cities have free wood chips that you can use to mulch your garden. Phone your city office and ask for details.

Materials to Avoid

  • Meat, bones, fish, dairy products, grease and oil tend to cause odors and attract rodents.
  • Pet droppings can harbor diseases.
  • Weeds with seeds or runners may grow when you spread your compost.
  • Diseased and insect-infested plants may spread their problems if not well-composted.
  • Shavings and sawdust from treated wood, and other chemical-laden materials, will introduce contaminants.
  • Ashes are inert and slow the composting process.
Easy Compost Recipe

  1. Select a 4-by-8-foot area, preferably shaded, where water does not collect or flow when it rains.    
  2. Cover half the area with a layer of leaves. Water lightly    
  3. Add a thin layer of grass clippings and/or fruit and vegetable scraps, with a dash of old compost or soil. Add water until this layer is soggy.   
  4.  Lightly mix this layer into the layer below with a hoe or cultivator    
  5. Top with a thin layer of leaves and water lightly.    
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 as ingredients are available. Never leave food near the surface. Built to at least 3 feet high as soon as possible. Ideally, your compost pile should equal at least one cubic yard: 3'x3'x3'. Even better: 4'x4'x4'.    
  7. Turn the pile over with a hay fork or shovel every 2 to 3 weeks, adding water as needed to make the whole pile moist like a wrung out sponge.    
  8. When space runs out, set the pile aside and start a new pile.
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