Do you have a garden or flower pots? Do you put mulch around your landscaping in the spring? If you do, you are likely spending more than $100 per year on soil and mulch when you could be getting it for free from your own backyard! How? Composting: the great way to save money, reduce waste, and get a better looking lawn and garden this year.
Composting is like recycling for your yard and you actually reap the direct benefits of the recycled material. If you start composting now, in just a few months, you will have a nutrient-rich material that you can spread over your garden and around your trees and bushes.
It’s simple: instead of throwing it away, all you need to do is throw your grass clippings, dead leaves, twigs and branches, vegetable and fruit scraps, and coffee grounds into a pile. If you are composting outside, you can either leave the pile completely open or put it in a bin that will look nicer. There are also make composting bins for indoor use available in stores.
Regardless of whether or not you use a bin, the keys to composting are adding the proper materials to the pile, keeping the pile moist, and turning the pile. By turning the pile, you aerate the material throughout and allow for aerobic composting. This will keep pests away from your pile and keep the pile from smelling bad. During dry seasons, be sure to water the pile occasionally. This will help the microorganisms in the pile easily digest the organic material and create the fertilizer and mulch for your garden.
Anything that grows and dies in your yard is great for your compost pile. Instead of throwing grass clippings or raked leaves into a trash bag, throw them onto your compost pile. Paper based materials in your home, such as cardboard, coffee filters, newspaper, and even dryer vent lint can be thrown onto your pile. If you have a dog that sheds, you can even throw their fur into the pile. Fruit, vegetables, tea leaves and coffee grounds are also great for composting. Think of all the room you will have in your trash cans and recycling bins when you begin composting. About 20 to 30 percent of what is thrown away in the trash could be composted.
But not everything can be thrown into your pile. Don’t throw dairy products, fats, greases, meat or fish bones, pet wastes, or lawn trimmings treated with chemicals into your compost pile. Any food that isn’t a fruit or vegetable could cause odors and attract rodents and flies. Pet waste can contain parasites and bacteria that are harmful to humans and your plants. Lawn chemicals can actually kill the essential microorganisms needed to decompose your pile.
In the spring, spread your compost all over your soil. Your soil will better maintain moisture, help your plants become more resistant to diseases, and actually help your plants grow bigger and stronger. All of these benefits are free. A bag of mulch costs about $5 and you will likely use 20 or so bags throughout your landscaping. Potting soil can be as much as $10 a bag. Not only will you be avoiding these costs, but you will be keeping tons of waste out of landfills. And when your neighbors catch you saving money and the environment, they’ll follow suit.