As we strive to lessen our carbon footprint, many people in Orange County are learning how to reduce and reuse the food that we consume. A great way to lower your impact on the planet is to start your own compost pile. Compost is a nutrient-rich addition to any lawn or garden. By adding compost to your lawn, garden, or flower beds, you give back to the environment. Compost can help your soil retain water and nutrients making for a more vibrant and healthy lawn. Here is everything you need to know about compost, what to use, what not to use, the benefits, how to store it, and how to use it.
What Is Compost?
Compost is simply organic materials and food waste that have been broken down through natural processes. The result is nutrient-rich soil that is ready to use for planting. There are many benefits to composting. Some include:
- Enhancing the soil profile while building the seed bank in your lawn.
- Encouraging healthy and disease-resistant turf
- Improving soil structure and quality
- Increasing water holding capacity
- It helps sandy soils retain water that usually runs through.
If you have the space for it, composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce while giving back to the Earth. All you need is your own organic waste and a place to store it.
Gather Your Materials
When starting your compost bin, you want a good balance of green and brown materials for the best results. Green materials are rich in Nitrogen and water, while “brown” materials contribute carbon to the compost and help absorb excess moisture.
- Grass clippings
- Vegetable and fruit scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Dead leaves
- Corn stalks
- Hay or straw
- Dry grass clippings
Don’t Get Carried Away
Although composting is fun and addictive, there are certain materials and foods that you should never compost.
- Meat, fat, or bones
- Pine needles or oak leaves
- Plants treated with pesticides
- Grease or oil
- Animal carcasses
- Human and pet waste
- Coal or wood ashes
Choosing The Right Compost Bin
A compost bin can be big or small, open to the air, or closed with a lid. It all depends on how much you want to spend, where you live, and how much waste you produce. Compost bins can be purchased at any garden center located throughout Orange County, or you can make your own. No matter which compost bin you choose, they all work the same. You place your green waste and other organic matter into the bin and let nature do the rest.
Open-air composting speeds the decomposition process up. Open-air composting can accommodate large amounts of waste and is much faster at making usable soil. On the downside, open-air compost piles smell bad, and the stench can drift throughout Orange County for quite a ways. So if you have neighbors that live close by, this method may not be for you.
The three-bin method is for those who use a lot of soil and fertilizer. It uses three separate bins for a composting system that is more effective and efficient than any other method. First, fresh materials are placed in the first bin. After a few weeks, the compost is transferred from the first bin to the second bin to decompose further. New compost is then placed in the first bin. After a few more weeks, the process continues by placing the contents of bin two into bin three, where it will decompose into usable fertilizer. This method requires a lot of work and dedication but it allows you to create large quantities of your own organic fertilizer.
Use Your New Compost
When the contents of your compost bin have broken down and resemble dark brown dirt with an earthy smell, it is time to take it out and use it. Use a milk crate to sift out any large remaining chunks and return them to the pile. The rest is fresh, free compost for you to put in your garden, flower beds, or flower pots.
Call The Professionals at Lawnscape Systems For All Your Spring Lawn Care Needs
Lawnscape Systems has over 25 years of experience providing commercial and residential lawn care services to the people of Southern California and Orange County. Our experienced technicians are trained and licensed to fertilize and apply insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides to treat stubborn weeds on commercial and residential lawns. As part of our lawn care services, we have several lawn fertilization programs designed to meet each customer’s needs. Learn more now by connecting with us online or giving us a call at 800.255.5296.