Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

How to Use Waste for Composting at Home on a Small Scale

The Authority sponsors Backyard Composting workshops presented by Horn Farm Center. If you are interested in attending one of these events, please click here for additional information. 

Why Compost?

  • Soil Builder
  • Waste Reducer
  • Environmentally Helpful and Safe
  • Low cost
  • Energy Efficient
  • Educational


  • Garden/Flower Bed Amendment
  • Top-Dressing for Perennials and Shrubs
  • Mix with Potting Soil for Seedlings or Houseplants
  • Sprinkle/Spread in Lawn
  • Compost Tea

General Materials to Add:

  • Leaves, twigs, yard trimmings
  • Grass Clippings (small amounts)
  • Saw Dust (Untreated)
  • Wood Ash (small amounts, cooled for at least 48 hours)
  • Kitchen Scraps
  • All NON GLOSSY paper products, Cardboard (ripped/shredded)
  • Coffee grounds and Tea leaves (plus filters and bags)

Comprehensive List of Items to Add to Compost

Common Greens:

  • Grass clippings
  • Salad greens
  • Apple cores
  • Strawberry tops
  • Peeled fruit (except citrus) and vegetable skins (pumpkin, carrot, apple, potato, etc.)
  • Banana + peels
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags, with staples removed
  • Garlic*
  • Onion*
  • Cabbage*

* Has a natural odor

Greens with high moisture content:

  • Watermelon + rinds
  • Cantaloupe + rinds
  • Honeydew + rinds
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Plums

Greens That Require Special Handling

  • Manure
  • Citrus rinds (to be avoided in vermicomposting)
  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Dairy
  • Cooked food
  • Oily food
  • Weeds

Greens That Are Slow to Decompose:

  • Big pits (peach, plum, avocado, etc.)
  • Avocado skin
  • Carrots (whole or chunked)
  • Corncobs
  • Egg Shells


  • Dry autumn leaves
  • Non-waxy paper, including newspaper
  • Non-waxy cardboard boxes
  • Cardboard egg cartons and beverage trays
  • Paper towel, toilet paper, and wrapping paper rolls
  • Cotton Balls, Q-Tips
  • Dryer Lint
  • Sawdust from untreated wood
  • Coffee chaff
  • Non-oily bread, pasta, and grain (cooked or uncooked)
  • Dried flowers/stalks
  • Shredded office paper
  • Stale chips, crackers, cereal, pretzels, etc
  • Used matches, Toothpicks
  • Feathers

Browns That Are Slow to Decompose:

  • Sticks, twigs, and logs
  • Pine needles and cones
  • Christmas Tree (speed this up by chopping into smaller pieces)
  • Wooden chopsticks and stirrers
  • Hair
  • Nail Clippings
  • Straw
  • Woodchips
  • Nuts/Shells (avoid Walnuts)

Browns to Handle with Care

  • Ash
  • Charcoal/BioChar

Avoid Completely!

  • Diseased plants and flowers
  • Poisonous plants such as poison ivy
  • Materials exposed to toxic chemicals
  • Cat manure and litter