Compost heap 2
Gardeners love win-wins and making compost fits the bill nicely. What’s better than taking something that would otherwise be going in the bin and turning it into something of value?

Why make compost?

Your plants rely on good growing conditions and soil packed with nutrients makes a big difference. Compost enriches soil health and fertility and helps maintain moisture.

Around 60 per cent of household waste is compostable, so making your own compost will mean less rubbish going to landfill.

Plus, it’s really satisfying to create something valuable out of nothing, knowing that you’re also saving yourself the expense of trips to buy bags of compost from the garden centre.

How does it work?

Composting is all about speeding up the natural process of decomposition and can be done in any size garden.

Worms and bacteria do the hard work eating and breaking down organic waste, but warmth, moisture and air are also important.

This breakdown process produces potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, all important elements for good plant health.

What can be composted?

Many things that end up in your household bin can be composted:

  • Vegetable peelings
  • Rotten fruit or veg
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Paper (not glossy)
  • Cardboard
  • Cut flowers
  • Garden waste
  • Grass cuttings
  • Used compost from containers and pots
  • Hair – (make use of those home haircuts)

Successful composting relies on getting the right mix of materials, so you achieve a balance between nitrogen and carbon. Too much nitrogen, and the compost may get too hot and kill the micro-organisms that do the breakdown work. Too little nitrogen and the compost won’t get hot enough.

Soft green prunings, veg peelings and grass cuttings are among materials that are rich in nitrogen, while toilet roll tubes and wastepaper are carbon rich.

Where to put your bin

You want to make it easy for micro-organisms to get to work on your waste, so placing your bin on bare soil or grass that has good drainage is ideal. Avoiding sites that are damp or heavily shaded. Keep your compost heap covered to protect it from getting too damp with rain.

How long does it take to produce compost?

You can buy enclosed bins that will rapidly heat up your waste and turn it into compost within 90 days, but conventional ‘cold’ heaps take about a year to produce good, earthy compost.

Are there any other benefits?

Composting can be good exercise. Turning a heap or digging compost into soil will give you a workout and strengthen muscles. Being outdoors in nature has proven benefits for mental health and wellbeing and knowing that you are contributing to more sustainable living will make you feel good.

Happy composting!


Composting is an environmentally friendly way to give your plants the nutrients they need. This guide will show you how to create compost that will best serve your garden.

Find out more