How to Create a Simple Compost Pile

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Composting does not have to be difficult. You could just leave everything alone, and you would have compost.

Papa, the trees are going to sleep. My older daughter informs me while we are laying on the grass, watching another leaf fall down. The baby runs to retrieve the brooms, and my daily task of sweeping around the house begins. My two little girls help in their fashion, having a great deal of fun. As I am picking the leaves up, I look down the street to see that many of my neighbors have left sacks of leaves by their curbs. Should I remind them that they are not allowed to set these out until the night before pick-up? A mischievous thought I know, but maybe they would then consider doing something else with their leaves, like a compost pile.
    Have you ever studied composting? Composting can become quite involved, and I think that you may need three bins, or some special bin, can deter people from beginning their own compost pile. We want the easy route, so we leave the bags by the street. By the way, you are required to place these leaves in the appropriate type of recyclable bag. I noticed that a few neighbors have not done so today. If I were looking for the perfect compost, I might give up on the idea of making my own. Yet I do want the benefits of this wonderful material. Those leaves that I swept up could become a mulch or organic matter for my plants next year. That could save me money. Considering strategies for making composting simple, I do a couple of things with my leaves that does not take any special effort.
    Using the leaves as mulch is one idea. I do have a shredder, and I can tell you form experience that mulching all of my leaves for mulch was quite a task. Now I throw my leaves under a bush or in a garden bed as they are. For most beds, the appearance of this mulch is not important, but where visitors may see it, I sprinkle a little cedar mulch over the leaves. As a home inspector, I will warn you that you do not want to raise the level of garden beds near the home to high. Insects use the mulch as cover to enter into the home, and moisture from the mulch can help to damage the walls of the home, so keep the mulch away from the wall.
   Creating a simple compost pile takes little effort. Layered compost piles is on traditional composting method which you can modify for your own home. If you have a yard with a row of bushes along a fence, you have a perfect spot. Throw the leaves down behind the bushes. Keep doing this until most or all of your leaves have fallen off of the trees. Then you can add a layer of green trimmings. On top of it all, you sprinkle a layer of compost from your home improvement or garden center. Finally, you leave it alone. You could repeat the steps if you so wish to build another compost pile on top of this one. Next year in the fall, you will have compost for your garden beds and lawn. This method does not produce the rich compost that you may have seen, but I do not have to pay for it, and best of all, this really helps the plants.
    I see any garden material being left at the curb for pick-up as a waste of a precious resource. Walking through my neighborhood, I notice that many gardens have no mulch. We do have mild winters; however, there are days when the plants could use a little warmth from the mulch. I have been surprised by how little rain that we have had in Houston. The garden beds with their layer of mulch fare better than the others. Mulch keeps the moisture in the ground, so we water less. Most of us might think about that fact during the summer, but have you realized that you may need mulch for the same reason at this time of year? Remember compost happens.

2 Responses to “How to Create a Simple Compost Pile”

  • Noah says:

    I bought a plastic compost bin from Lowe’s this past spring, and it was falling apart by the fall, so out it went. I’m using a 50 gallon storage bin for now, and in goes everything organic from the kitchen. The bin, which I’ve been using for about 4 weeks, is now churning out compost material very quickly. Coffee grinds, onion, celery, and other clippings are now in my squarefoot garden with my just planted broccoli, radish, and turnip seeds. Composting is amazing.

  • Frank Schulte-Ladbeck says:

    I did the same. My only problem is bringing out the items from the kitchen out to the bin before my wife throws them out. The bin is great, but I wanted to mention this idea for all of those leaves.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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