Composting

Compost Bin & Rain Barrel Sale has closed for 2024

Pre-Order Sales Only.

Pick up date for Pre-Ordered items is Saturday April 20th between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m

Pick-up Location is Livingston County Garage, 918 North Street, Howell, MI

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What is Composting?

Composting is the natural breakdown of organic materials through decomposition. It is nature’s way of recycling plant materials back into rich, soil-like material that can be used in gardens, flowerbeds, or potted plants. Composting can be a great tool for reducing waste and enriching the soil. To help with correct compost usage and creation, we classify waste into the three following categories:

Greens

“Green” materials are high in nitrogen and are the main source of nutrients in the creation of compost. They account for the majority of your compost’s wet material. Despite their name, they are not always green. The following examples qualify as Greens:

Grass Clippings and Weeds, Livestock Manure, Garden Prunings, Raw Vegetable and Fruit Scraps, Coffee Grounds and Filters, Tea Bags, Crushed and Rinsed Eggshells

Browns

“Brown” materials account for your compost’s dry and/or woody material. They are rich in carbon and supply the compost with the bulk of its material. These materials help with allowing air flow into the mixture. The following examples qualify as Browns:

Autumn Leaves, Wood Chips, Pine Needles and Pine Cones, Dead Plants, Hay, Sawdust, Shredded Paper (small amounts)

Non-Compostables

Some items that may seem compostable are not able to decompose in a residential compost setting. Avoid mixing these waste items in with your compost piles, as Non-Compostables may inhibit the ability for regularly compostable materials to decompose. Non-Compostables include, but are not limited to, the following:

Meat Scraps or Bones, Cooked Foods, Dairy Products, Oils/Grease, Sauces, Peanut Butter, Bread, Pet Manure

Important Composting Steps

Step 1

Choose a bin or location for your compost pile. A bin can be purchased at most garden supply stores or can be easily constructed with some wood and chicken wire or with four wood pallets.

Step 2

Place the brown and green materials in layers in the bin. Remember to use three times as much brown material as green material.

Step 3

Add just enough water to dampen the materials. Too much water can cause odors. It may also cool the microorganisms that decompose the material and cause them to become inactive.

Step 4

Periodically turn the materials using a shovel or a pitchfork. Composting will not occur without enough oxygen.

Step 5

Harvesting. Depending on the pile type, composition, temperature, moisture content, and aeration, your pile could be ready to harvest anywhere between six weeks to a year.

Trouble Shooting Guide

Problem
Cause
Solution
Compost not breaking down?
  • Too many brown materials
  • Pile too dry
  • Pile too wet
  • Pile too small
  • Add more green materials
  • Add water
  • Turn the pile to aerate
  • Build pile to one cubic yard
Rotten or ammonia odor
  • Too many green materials
  • Too much moisture
  • Food remains on top of the pile
  • Mix in brown materials
  • Turn the pile to aerate
  • Mix in wood ash to absorb odor
  • Cover pile from rain and snow
Flies and pests
  • Exposed food scraps
  • Bury food waste
  • Turn pile to increase temperature
  • Do not add meat or fatty foods
  • Cover pile

What do I do with the finished product?

Finished compost will be loose and crumbly and will resemble dark soil. It is an excellent soil conditioner and fertilizer and should smell sweet, like the floor of a forest. When mixed with sandy soil, compost helps retain and hold water. When mixed with clay soils, compost loosens the soil particles and allows for better drainage.

Compost can be used with equal parts potting soil or garden soil for container gardening. The compost adds nutrients and texture to encourage plant growth. Plant in a well-drained container, water frequently, and add fertilizer to supplement nitrogen content, which is quickly lost in containers.

Compost can be used as mulch around garden plants, under bushes, and around trees. Spread two to three inches of compost to help hold in moisture, reduce weeds, and gradually feed organic matter into the soil and plant roots. Compost is especially useful in the hottest and driest periods of summer.

Compost may be added to gardens in the spring or fall. Apply the compost in layers of one to two inches or add the compost in trenches, furrows, and seedling holes when planting or transplanting.

Yard Waste Disposal

The following compost material disposal companies are not endorsed by the Livingston County Solid Waste Department and are only provided for informational purposes.

Tuthill Farms & Composting, Inc.
10505 Tuthill Rd.
South Lyon, MI 48178
(734) 449-8100

Monroe’s Transfer Station
10025 Industrial Dr.
Whitmore Lake, MI 48189
(810) 231-1055

Solid Waste /​ DPW
Brian Jonckheere

Brian Jonckheere
Drain Commissioner

Q

Phone

(517) 545-9609

Hours

Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed County Holidays

Location

2300 E Grand River Ave.
Suite 105
Howell, MI 48843

Fax

(517) 545-9658