18th - 24th September 2023
Hot Composting Week Homepage

Garden Composting

Make your own compost out of kitchen and garden waste

Having your own compost bin in your back garden is a fun and rewarding hobby for all gardeners. It helps you save the planet, reduce your waste to landfill or council garden waste. It also saves you money on the purchase of compost.

What you need

First you will need a place to put your compost unit. It really needs to be placed on soil. This is to attract worms who will rummage around and help break down your contents.

The compost unit you go for can vary - Ideally you need a space away from your house. Good compost does not smell, but if it ever does - you don’t want to be near it. Also if you have a lot of fruit that you leave uncovered, fruit flies will be attracted to it - and you don’t want those venturing into your kitchen.

To start home composting, I recommend a black or green ‘Dalek style’ bin that has aeration holes and a secure lid. You need the lid to keep out pests, and to keep the heat in the bin which is needed to help the composting process. Aeration holes are required to provide oxygen which will help the decomposition process.

What you should compost

The following materials are safe for your compost pile:

  • Grass clippings
  • Tree leaves
  • Vegetable food scraps (coffee grounds, lettuce, potato peels, banana peels, avocado skins, etc.)
  • Black and white newspaper 
  • Printer paper
  • Most disease free garden waste (Weeds are NOT recommended)
  • Cardboard (egg boxes etc)
  • Vegetarian animal manure (e.g. cows, horses, rabbits, hamsters, etc.)
  • Wood shavings or sawdust

It’s important to remember that the smaller you break down your waste, the quicker it will compost.

What to avoid

Avoid the following:

  • Meat
  • Fat (including butter and oil),
  • Dairy
  • Bones

If you want to compost these items, then it would be worth considering using the Bokashi Composting method.

Top Tips


You can buy a box of worms for around £10. This will help you kick start your decomposition. We have used Worms Direct for these and they are highly recommended.

Turning the compost:

To keep your compost bin in good order, you need to aerate it. This reheats the contents and keeps it aerobic. It also speeds up the composting process and reduces bad odours.

Keep it moist:

Water is required to keep creatures active and help them survive. These include microbes that are required for composting.  The organic material being decomposed has to be moist but not too wet.

Balance your contents:

Decomposition of organic materials in your compost bin is greatly increased when you create the proper balance between green and brown materials. GREEN (Nitrogen) waste is fruit, veg and grass clippings. BROWN (Carbon) waste is dry leaves, shredded paper, cardboard. 

Power up your compost

If you want to increase the rate at which your compost decomposes, you can use an ‘accelerator’. We have a blog post just about this!