How to compost Composting how to

A tester turning compost with a fork

Weekly turning produces good compost in only two months

Compost is fantastic for use as a soil improver in the garden, either as a mulch or for digging in.

Once you know how, it's easier to make from kitchen and garden waste and is a great way to recycle these materials instead of sending them to landfill.

Discover our Best Buy compost bins, Best Buy wormeries and Best Buy tumbling compost bins.

Start immediately 

You can start composting at any time of year, but spring to autumn is when you’ll have the most waste to add to your heap.

Get a compost bin 

Some councils sell compost bins more cheaply than garden centres, and deliver to your door. Call your council to find out what’s on offer. For the quickest results, try a

Alternatively make a bin by constructing a simple frame out of wood, plastic or chicken wire.

Site your bin on bare soil 

This gives all the helpful soil organisms access to the heap to start the decomposition process.

Shred large materials

Shred or chop any large, tough material before adding it to your bin so composting organisms can get to work on it quicker. If you don’t have a garden shredder, chop using a sharpened spade on a soft surface or simply use a pair of secateurs.

Keep your compost heap moist

Squeeze a small amount of compost in your hand; if it holds together and doesn’t drip it’s just right. Add a little water every time you add new material to your bin and check it’s moist when you turn it.

Turn your compost heap 

You should do this at least once every couple of months. Make sure you mix the edges into the middle when you turn the heap and add water if it’s dry. Turning is not so important in winter. A makes the job easy.

Cover your compost bin

This will keep the contents warm and moist. This isn't essential but if you can't cover your bin, try to put it somewhere shaded where it will won't dry out so quickly.

Composting problems solved

Wet compost bin

Phase 3 of making compost

Add bulky, dry materials to banish bad smells

The main cause of a soggy heap is too many grass clippings. Before adding grass, mix it with dry brown materials – save autumn leaves for this purpose. 

Smelly compost bin

An ammonia aroma is caused by too much green waste and a rotten smell is probably because the bin is too wet. Both are solved by adding bulky, dry materials such as leaves or straw and mixing well. Keeping a balance of green and brown materials and turning your heap regularly will minimise nasty odours.


Uncooked food is a good source of nutrients, but it’s also a delicacy for rats. If you add food to your heap, bury it deeply and keep your heap covered. If pests are a real problem, don’t add any food wastes at all.

Incomplete decomposition/dry edges

The usual cause of incomplete decomposition is a dry heap. Empty your bin and refill it making sure the edges are turned into the middle. Water if it feels dry. Your heap should be damp to the touch.


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