Backyard Composting

Reap a Heap of Benefits

Composting is a lot easier than you may think. Organic material breaks down around us in nature all the time. Composting is just a method of speeding up the process.

Most compost bin designs are so simple they can be built in a few hours. Once you gather your yard waste and form it into a pile, the only time you'll spend is for occasional maintenance. Then sit back and let nature do the rest.

For more information, visit the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Composting Equipment


All you need are some basic gardening tools, like a pitchfork, a rake, and a shovel.


Compost bins can be built with inexpensive materials like snow fencing, woven wire, or used cinder blocks and lumber.


You don't need store-bought "soil activators" or potting soil to compost. One inch of soil from your yard or garden has all the ingredients needed to start the composting process.

Compost is ready to harvest when it is reduced to a crumbly, sweet smelling material called humus. If some pieces are not decomposed, you can sift those out and use them to start a new batch.

Compost improves soil structure, holds in moisture and plant nutrients, and promotes strong, healthy root systems for plant growth.

What You Can Compost

Do Compost

  • Clean wood ash
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust and wood chips
  • Small brush, twigs
  • Weeds and garden debris

Do Not Compost

  • Charcoal briquette ash
  • Pet or human waste
  • Sawdust from treated wood
  • Whole branches, logs