What is Composting, and is it Worth It?

Most definitely! Composting is nature’s way of recycling. It is a process of taking organic matter, both green and dry, such as grass clippings, manure (NOT from meat-eating animals), vegetable peels, and dry leaves, twigs etc., and putting them in a pile to decompose. With proper air, moisture, and time, the pile will yield a pleasant, earthy smelling, dark brown, crumbly material that looks nothing like the original components. Compost provides a rich source of soil microorganisms that can greatly benefit your soil. Use it as an amendment in vegetable and flower gardens, or as a mulch in permanent landscapes.


Compost Checklist

Use this checklist to help you compost organic materials for yourself or deliver your trimmings to a commercial organics recycler.

  • Compost piles or bins are located in an area with easy access that is aesthetically acceptable.
  • Compost ingredients are added and blended to balance nitrogen and carbon ratios. The right mix is equal parts "green" and "brown."
  • The compost is kept sufficiently moist, like a wrung-out sponge.
  • The compost pile is turned, fluffed, or aerated to provide oxygen to microbes and prevent odor.
  • The finished compost is used as a soil amendment to return nutrients to the landscape and save money on amendment purchases.
  • Diseased plant material and mature weeds with seeds should not be added to the pile.
  • Large-scale composting must be performed in a responsible, good-neighborly manner.
  • State and local laws require permitting or licensing of larger composting facilities.
  • Take excess material to local, commercial-scale composters. They accept clean landscape trimmings and sell quality organic soil amendment for landscaping uses.


Start composting for your garden at CalRecycle.

Enjoy easy-to-read science-based information on mulch and compost (and other garden things).