Ecological Footprint

Ecological Footprint

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Backyard Composting

composting cross section

Anything that was once a living plant can be composted, but to make your compost work well you need a balance of nitrogen and carbon rich materials. All plants contain nitrogen and carbon but the ratio of nitrogen to carbon varies. Green materials such as grass clippings are high in nitrogen whereas brown materials such as the autumn leaves are high in carbon. If you use equal amounts of green and brown materials, i.e. one bucket of grass clippings and one bucket of leaves, you should obtain a good balance.The materials can be layered or mixed together. Mixing will start the compost working more quickly.

What To Put In?

Four Essential Ingredients for Good Composting


Balancing the supply of water and oxygen is essential for good composting. The decomposers need moisture to do their work. If the pile is too dry, nothing much will happen. If the pile is too wet it will smell. The pile should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Too wet a pile eliminates the essential oxygen that the decomposers need. Even with the right amount of moisture the pile tends to pack down and squeeze out the oxygen. To avoid this, aerate your pile at least once a week. A compost turner, shovel, garden fork, potato hoe or stirrup hoe, can be used to turn your pile. Use a tool that is easy on your back and that you are comfortable using. A lid can be helpful for retaining or repelling water. Click Here For Solutions to Composting Problems

Building the Pile

pile building

Whether using a purchased or hand-built container, always start with a layer of twigs or coarse material such as straw to allow for good air circulation. Materials can then be added in layers no more than 10cm thick. Alternate the kinds of material used or mix them together. The smaller the materials are chopped or shredded, the faster the composting process will work. The pile should be at least one cubic metre in size but no larger than 3.5 cubic metres.