You could just pile your leaves and plant material in the corner of your yard and, eventually, they will compost. Unfortunately, most of us do not have the room to accommodate building a new pile every season and then waiting 4 or 5 years for the first pile to become compost.

So, the backyard composter generally needs to use some sort of bin or container to hold their compost during the process. Here are some general factors to consider when deciding what to use in your backyard.

1. Size - For composting to work at a fast rate, there needs to be a certain minimum volume of organic matter in the pile. A container with the dimensions of 3 feet high by 3 feet wide by 3 feet long or 4 by 4 by 4 will provide this volume. If the pile is too small or too large, it will work very slowly.

2. Aeration - Oxygen is important to keep the pile aerobic to encourage the "good" kind of organisms that do not cause the pile to have a bad odor. Therefore, the container needs to have openings that allow for air to move freely in and out of the pile. That is why many are often made of wire fencing materials or wooden slats.

3. Accessibility - You will need to add to your pile, aerate it and eventually remove the compost for use in your garden. Therefore, your container needs to be constructed such that you can easily access the compost throughout the process.

Composting Equipment

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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