Backyard/On-site Composting

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backyard composting

Compost is decomposed organic matter, made from leaves, grass clippings, wood chips and fruit and vegetable scraps. Added to your soil or sprinkled on your yard and garden, it helps grass and plants to thrive. Unlike some fertilizers, compost will not run off your yard and pollute our creeks and waterways.


On-site Compost Assistance


Preventing food scraps from going in the trash is not only a way to save money, but it is the law starting in 2020! The Rutland County Solid Waste District is available to help individuals and organizations set up on-site composting with consultation and workshops. Composting workshops are a great way to bring the community together to educate on best composting methods, share resources, and come up with ideas to divert food scraps from the landfill. For more information, call (802) 775-7209 x204 or email



Recipe for Compost


Composting is easy. Simply put different yard trimmings such as leaves and grass clippings in a bin or pile. You should have a mix of green material and brown material. Add water so the pile is slightly damp. Let the pile sit for 12 to 16 months.


You can add fruit and vegetable scraps and other materials as generated. Cover new kitchen scraps with leaves or bury them in the pile. If the pile dries out, add more water to keep it damp.


After 12 to 16 months, most of the material at the bottom of the pile will be dark, rich sweet-smelling compost. Sift or sort out large undecomposed materials and sprinkle the rest on your yard and garden.


For faster results, turn the pile at least once a month. The pile should reach a temperature of 130 to 160 degrees and will be ready in 6 to 9 months. The more frequently you turn the pile, the faster your compost will be ready.


What Can Be Composted?
• Grass Clippings
• Yard Trimmings (old plants, wilted flowers, small prunings)
• Leaves
• Vegetable & Fruit Scraps
• Coffee Grounds
• Tea Leaves
• Wood Chips
• Shredded Paper (Low grade paper not acceptable for recycling)


What to Avoid
• Meat, Fish and Poultry (including bones)
• Food Sauces
• Fats, Grease, and Oils
• Dairy Products
• Pet Feces
• Invasive Weeds
• Treated Wood (or any materials containing strong preservatives or toxins)
• Ashes and charcoal
• Non-organics (plastic, metal, glass, etc...)


Composting in Bear Country?



If you live in rural Vermont (and some urban areas) you have probably taken down bird feeders from April to November to avoid it being knocked down by hungry bears. While bird feeders can be attractive, there are ways to compost food scraps without bringing in extra bears to your backyard. Figure out which method works best for you at different times of the year:


Backyard compost pile- make sure to add 3 times as many browns (leaves, wood shavings, brown paper) as greens (food scraps) and always cover exposed greens with a few inches of brown material. Keep all contents in a sturdy container that has plenty of air holes, and turn frequently (at least weekly) to aerate the pile. The last tip is to keep the moisture level consistent around 50-60%– a squeeze test should produce some moisture, but no dripping. There are some bear-resistant bins available, and many people have used the Green Cone Digester (subsidized to $140 by RCSWD) without bother from bears or other critters.


Bring food scraps to drop off location– all transfer stations accept food scraps for drop off, which are then composted or anaerobically digested. All you need is a bucket or bag to hold the food scraps, and you can avoid the hassle of doing it yourself! Put scraps in the fridge or freezer to keep smells down until your next disposal.


Compost in your kitchen!– Worm composting can be done odorlessly and with cleanliness under a sink or in a closet. The worms and microbes eat food scraps quick enough that mold and odor are not produced. It can require some reading and practice to get the process down, so here are some further resources to check out:
Worm composting overview by Elaine Nordmeyer, UVM Master Composter
Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhoff
Mother Earth News - Online Resource