The Home Composter

How to Compost

Compost safely

Which bin to choose?

Your Compost Ingredients

Empty your compost bin

To turn or not to turn?

How long to compost?

Worms & Wormeries

Topical Composting

Compost kitchen waste

Prickly prunings

Weeds and weeds

Too much grass

Leaves for Leafmould

Seasonal Tips


Advice sheets

Unwelcome Guests

To make good compost you need to put the correct materials into your compost bin:

You MUST put into your bin : A good mix of green, sappy material and brown fibrousy stuff These need to include:
Annual weeds with some soil attached to the roots – this contains the micro-organisms that will do the composting for you.
Some fruit and vegetable peelings
Some stalky stuff from the flower border

chop up bin ingredientsThe smaller the bits you put in the finer the compost you will get out, so shred or chop up large stalks and twigs.

These are some of the things that are good to put into your home compost bin
Annual weeds   Dead flowers   Fruit peelings   Rhubarb leaves   Tea bags
Dead leaves    Vacuum dust   Soft hedge clippings    Stalks of plants
Kitchen towel   Egg shells   Crumpled newspaper   Pet fur   Feathers
Raw vegetable waste including potato peelings
Grass mowings (but not those treated with herbicides)
Mix of kitchen & garden wasteSoft cardboard like egg boxes, the centres of toilet rolls
The leaves of perennial weeds (not the roots)
Straw or hay, especially if it has been used as vegetarian pet bedding
A small amount of wood ash
Fresh shredded prunings from green  wood
Potato shaws (haulms); put them in a covered bin

Layer different types of material, green and brown, to make a balanced mix

As you keep adding these materials into your compost bin the contents will sink as they rot down.   After about a year you will have finished compost at the bottom of your bin.

However, some materials take a very long time to rot down so put them in a separate bin where they can stay for 2 or 3 years until they have rotted down.
Sawdust and wood shavings need to be mixed with other materials and will then take at least 3 years to compost
Woody branches and thorny stems are best shredded and even then will take 2 years to fully compost. Left whole they will take even longer.
Conifer prunings also take years to rot down fully
Large quantities of moss (for example raked from a lawn) may also take 2 or 3 years to fully decompose.
The roots of perennial weeds will rot down if kept in a special covered bin for at least 2 years. See our fact sheet Perennial Weeds for other tips.
Large root balls of dead plants will take years to rot down
Spent commercial compost will take a long time to be incorporated into your compost – best to use it as a soil conditioner
Bulbs, corms and tubers will continue to grow unless chopped up or left in a covered bin for at least 2 years

Some things should not be put in any home composting unit
Watch our video clip to help you remember

Grass mowings treated with “feed and weed” - the herbicide may persist and damage plants subsequently grown in the compost
Cooked food will smell and may attract rats and foxes
Ash from a coal fire may damage subsequent plant growth
Paper with a plastic or shiny coating – this coating will be left when the paper backing rots down

Some weeds and diseased plants may need special treatment.

             Follow these simple rules and recycle most of your garden waste into good free compost

Composting problem?
 Contact us if you would like us to answer your query. We'll try to give a helpful answer!

This page is sponsored by Scottish Borders Councilsbc logo

More information about recycling can be found on :
 Scottish Borders Council Reduce Reuse Recyclewaste aware logo

Also try Zero Waste Scotland