Discovering the Best Way to Compost: 14 Methods Compared

A pile of food scraps next to some tiles that spell out compost

Composting is the beautiful process of turning food scraps and yard waste into black gold - an amazing natural fertilizer for your gardens. Composting at home is one of the best choices you can make to reduce the food waste sent to landfills as well as enrich your own plants. The question is then, what's the best way to compost at home?

If you've looked up anything about home composting at this point, you've likely already seen that there's a huge range of composting methods. Trying to sort through all the competing information on different sites can definitely feel overwhelming. To help you out, we've compiled a list of 14 composting methods to compare their pros and cons. From there, you'll be able to easily decide which composting method is best for you.

Now, let's dive right into those comparisons!


The best way to compost: 14 composting methods to try

In our comparisons, we'll be looking at costs, duration, difficulty, and the pros and cons of each method. Of course, we'll also give a short description of what these methods are and provide you with more resources on how to do that method.


1. Cold compost pile

A pitchfork sticking out of a compost pile

Duration: 6 months - 1 year

Difficulty: Easy

Resources: Check out Treehugger's guide on cold composting. They explain everything from setting up to using your finished compost, including what organic materials to put in your compost pile.

When it comes to home composting, a cold compost pile is one of the easiest ways to compost. It essentially boils down to you throwing a bunch of organic waste in a pile and waiting for the magic to happen. There is a bit more to it than that, but it's a mostly hands-off process, especially compared to most other home composting methods.

The lack of required effort here comes with two major downsides. The first is that this composting process takes the longest (up to a year!). You also need a decent bit of outdoor space for this method, since an open pile takes up more space than you might think.


Pros

Cons

  • Takes basically no effort
  • Doesn't cost anything if you don't want it to
  • Easy to harvest finished compost
  • Takes the longest to finish composting
  • Requires plenty of outdoor space
  • Can easily attract pests if you add inappropriate organic materials



2. Hot compost pile

Steam coming out of a compost pile

Duration: 1 - 2 months

Difficulty: Moderate

Resources: The Spruce's guide on making a hot compost pile is a great starting point for anyone wanting to try this method.

A hot composting pile is a lot like a cold composting pile, with a few key differences. The goal of the hot composting process is pretty much just what it sounds like. You're trying to get the pile to heat up so that the process occurs much quicker. This is mostly achieved by putting the right amount of different organic materials in the pile, and turning that pile every few days. This does require more work than cold composting, but it's worth it for those who don't want to wait up to a year for their finished compost.


Pros

Cons

  • You can get a lot of finished compost quickly
  • Doesn't cost anything if you don't want it to
  • Easy to harvest finished compost
  • Requires physical effort to turn the pile every few days
  • Requires plenty of outdoor space
  • Can easily attract pests if you add inappropriate organic materials

3. Garbage bag composting

A stack of garbage bags filled with compost on a bench

Duration: 6 months - 1 year

Difficulty: Easy

Resources: You can learn more about garbage bag composting with this article by the Plastic Place. If you don't want to wait a whole year or more for finished compost, you can also check out our advice on how to speed up the composting process.

Garbage bag composting is another hands-off method of composting at home, and it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. All you really do with this is throw all your organic waste in double-layered garbage bags and wait for them to finish composting. As with cold composting, this process can take quite a while. However, you don't need as much space as you would with an open pile, and you wouldn't need to worry about scents or pests.


Pros

Cons

  • Takes basically no effort
  • At most, it's only going to cost a few dollars for extra garbage bags
  • Compost is completely contained, so won't be giving off scents or attracting pests
  • Takes a long time to finish the composting process
  • It will take a while to fill a whole bag with organic waste, and you'll need to store that waste somewhere in the meantime

4. Composting with Lomi

Lomi filled with kitchen scraps and surrounded by food and drinks

Try this product: Lomi by Pela

Duration: 16 - 20 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Resources: You can learn all about Lomi and how it works on the Pela website. You can also check out this blog to learn more about what you can do with Lomi dirt.

For the truly easiest way to compost at home, look no further than Lomi. All you need to do is place your food scraps inside Lomi and then push a button. Lomi does all the rest. And, as Lomi is a small kitchen appliance, it's able to break down all your organic waste in less than a day. With Lomi's grow mode, it turns your kitchen scraps into a nutrient-rich dirt in 20 hours at most. With the Lomi Approved mode, it can even break down all your Lomi-approved bioplastics, something you can't do at home any other way.

Another great part about Lomi is that you don't really need any space for it at all. Because of its small size, you can compost at home even if you live in a tiny apartment. However, it's still ideal for anyone with large yards with full gardens. Because of how fast Lomi works, you're able to get a steady supply of dirt to nourish your plants.


Pros

Cons

  • The only way to break down bioplastics at home
  • The quickest way to compost at home
  • Requires absolutely no time or effort on your part
  • The small size may not be able to accommodate the waste level of larger families
  • Uses electricity to break down organic waste, so it's not as energy efficient as traditional composting

Lomi by Pela

Lomi

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Lomi allows you to turn food waste into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Boost your plants while reducing your waste.


5. Trench composting

A pitchfork sticking out of a trench filled with organic waste

Duration: 6 months - 1 year

Difficulty: Moderate

Resources: This article by Farmer's Almanac details the different ways to trench compost, and when you should do which kind of trench composting.

Trench composting is a bit different from other methods. Instead of piling up your organic waste on the ground or in a bin somewhere, you place your kitchen scraps directly in the ground. Once you get your waste into the ground, this is a fairly hands-off method. However, you do first have to dig up trenches in your yard to start composting. Depending on how much organic waste you're looking to compost, this could be a long process.


Pros

Cons

  • Completely hands-off after the initial work
  • Doesn't take up above-ground space in your yard
  • Doesn't cost anything
  • You have to dig up trenches
  • Requires yard space
  • You can't use the compost for indoor plants

6. Compost tumbling

A compost tumbler sitting in some gardens

Shop this product: Compsot tumbler on Amazon

Duration: 3 - 6 months

Difficulty: Easy

Resources: Learn more about compost tumblers and other types of compost bins on our blog.

Compost tumblers are great at making traditional composting just a little easier than normal. Compost tumblers are essentially just regular compost bins with an especially convenient handle on them. With just a turn of the handle, you can aerate the contents like you normally would with hot composting.

While this may seem like an expensive price to pay for a bucket with a handle, it really is helpful to people who compost regularly. It takes time and effort off your hands while delivering quality compost.


Pros

Cons

  • Takes most of the effort off your hands
  • Keeps compost contained - no worry about smells
  • Doesn't require outdoor space
  • Is a bit expensive for its size
  • Takes up a decent amount of space either indoors or outdoors
  • Emptying the bin can be awkward

7. Outdoor compost bin

An outdoor compost bin set up in a garden

Try this product: Garden composter bin on Amazon.com

Duration: 1 month - 1 year

Difficulty: Moderate

Resources: If you're looking to compost outdoors on a small budget, here's a guide on making a DIY outdoor compost for cheap.

With an outdoor compost bin, you get the choice of either hot or cold composting while keeping the heap contained. This will generally look nicer on your property, but it comes with the added cost of purchasing a bin or putting in the work to build one yourself. If you're hot composting, it can also be challenging to mix all the organic matter in a contained space rather than as a heap.


Pros

Cons

  • The compost pile is contained and looks nicer
  • Is relatively cheap
  • Takes up yard space
  • Building a bin can be difficult
  • Turning in a bin can be difficult


8. The 3-bin method

3 wooden outdoor compost bins attached together

Duration: 1 - 2 months

Difficulty: Hard

Resources: This article The Gardener is an in-depth guide on 3-bin compost systems that's a must-read if you want to try this method!

The 3-bin method of composting is more like an efficient system of hot composting. The idea is that you have multiple bins in different stages of the composting process. That way, you'll pretty well always have finished compost ready to use in your gardens or indoor plants. The general idea for the three bins is as follows:

  • Bin 1: The beginning stage of the composting process where you're waiting for the compost to heat up.
  • Bin 2: The "cooking" stage of the process. This is where the compost will be while it's hot and breaking down.
  • Bin 3: The finished compost bin.

The intention is that you'll move the compost from one bin to the next as the compost develops. This is a great system for people who could use a lot of compost regularly, but it's also a lot of hard work.


Pros

Cons

  • Provides a consistent supply of compost
  • Is relatively quick to finish
  • Can easily take care of all the food waste you'd produce
  • Will either be a lot of work to set up, or expensive if you don't want to build it yourself
  • Is a decent amount of work to move compost between bins every few weeks
  • Takes up a lot of outdoor space

9. Composting with chickens

A group of chickens eating off the ground

Duration: 3 - 4 months

Difficulty: Hard

Resources: First of all, you'll need to know how to raise chickens. After that, this guide can help you with the composting part of the process.

This may not have come to mind before, but chickens are actually a great way to make compost. They also come with the added benefit of a regular egg supply. Regarding the composting process, chickens can help in multiple ways. If you want a compost pile, chickens will turn that pile for you. Of course, you could just skip the pile altogether and feed your kitchen scraps to your chickens. They'll turn all those scraps into nutrient-rich manure for your garden.


Pros

Cons

  • Chickens will do most of the composting work for you
  • You'll also get eggs out of the deal
  • Feeding your chicken kitchen scraps means you don't need to buy as much feed
  • Requires more outdoor space than other composting methods
  • Clean up and care of the chickens required
  • Can get expensive

10. Fly composting

A close up of black soldier flies used for composting

Duration: 2 - 3 weeks

Difficulty: Moderate

Resources: If you have any questions about black soldier flies and their larvae, you can check out this guide on BSF composting. They answer all the questions you might have about using these flies and why you would want to.

Although this may seem unappealing to many, black soldier fly composting is one of the most efficient ways to compost outdoors. The black soldier fly larvae are quick to digest any food scraps you have, netting you with finished compost in just a few weeks. It's even free since the smell of open compost attracts the black soldier flies. However, if you don't want to wait for the flies to come in on their own, you can buy some larvae. The biggest downside here, of course, is the fact that you'll have a bunch of flies and larvae in your yard, which not everyone will enjoy.


Pros

Cons

  • Free or cheap to get started
  • Quick to finish composting
  • Doesn't require effort on your part
  • You need to be okay with being around the flies and larvae
  • Takes up outdoor space
  • Flies can be quite loud

11. Lasagna composting

A filled compost bin opened up to show the different layers inside

Try this product: Land Guard Raised garden bed on Amazon

Duration: 6+ months

Difficulty: Moderate

Resources: Check out this guide on putting together a lasagna compost bed if this is the method for you. You can also read our guide on what to compost and what not to compost to help you with your layering.

Before you get too excited, no, lasagna composting has nothing to do with the delicious meal. Instead, it refers to the layering you would get in a lasagna. The idea with this type of composting, which is also called sheet mulching, is that you layer organic matter in a specific way to create a nutrient-rich garden bed. It's ideal to start this composting method in the early fall so that the garden beds are ready for the spring.

This can be done right in the ground where you want to plant your garden, which makes this method entirely free. However, this can also be done in a raised garden bed, which will only cost as much as your raised garden bed.


Pros

Cons

  • Free or relatively cheap method
  • No work after initial setup
  • Directly creating healthy garden beds
  • You need to properly plan how you're going to create all the layers
  • The finished compost can only be used to enrich the garden bed it made
  • Requires plenty of outdoor space

12. Bokashi bin

A person putting Bokashi Bran in their filled Bokashi bin

Cost: $67.95 (Shop this Bokashi bin on Amazon)

Duration: 4 weeks (2 weeks in the bin, 2 weeks curing in the ground)

Difficulty: Easy

Resources: Here's a step-by-step instructional guide on how to use a Bokashi bin and what to do with the finished product.

Bokashi composting is an indoor method of composting that is relatively quick and easy. With a Bokashi bin, you place all your food scraps inside, and really press them down to try and remove any air pockets. You then add your Bokashi bran and wait for a couple of weeks for it to finish. Unfortunately, that finished product isn't quite ready to be added to any soil, as it's too acidic. However, you can bury the finished product for another 2 weeks, and that will make a good soil amendment.


Pros

Cons

  • Can be done indoors and doesn't take up much space
  • Finishes composting materials quickly
  • Very little effort required
  • Finished product needs to be buried before it can be used
  • Small size may not be able to accommodate larger families
  • You need to continuously buy Bokashi bran

13. Indoor aerobic composting

A small compost bin filled with kitchen scraps next to a used cutting board

Try this product: EPICA Stainless Steel Compost Bin on Amazon

Duration: 2 - 4 months

Difficulty: Moderate

Resources: Check out our article on composting indoors to give you tips and tricks on how to get the best from your indoor compost bin.

If you don't have any outdoor space to work with and are limited with your space indoors, then indoor aerobic composting is a simple way for you to get started. All you really need for this method is a small kitchen compost bin and a good mix of brown materials to go with your kitchen scraps. The brown materials can be anything along the lines of shredded paper or even yard waste.

All you need to do is fill your bin with the right mix of organic matter, stir the contents every now and again, and wait for it to finish. This is a decent way to get started with composting as it's fairly cheap (you only need to buy a bin), and it doesn't require much work to get it right.


Pros

Cons

  • Doesn't take up much space inside and you don't need any outdoor space
  • Doesn't require much effort
  • Easy to harvest and store compost when it's done
  • The small size may not be large enough for big households
  • You need to pay attention to the contents to make sure they're composting right
  • There's a risk of bad smells if something goes wrong with the compost and your bin doesn't have a filter

14. Green Cone composting

A dog sitting next to a Green Cone set up in the yard
Image Credit: Earth Easy

Try this product: Green Cone from Earth Easy

Duration: Ongoing

Difficulty: Easy

Resources: Learn all about the Green Cone's design and how it works with this article by The Treehugger.

If your main goal with composting is to eliminate food waste and not to actually use that compost for your garden beds, the Green Cone is a great solution for you. Instead of traditionally composting, Green Cone's design allows for the swift breakdown of food scraps into liquid that gets absorbed into the earth. This greatly reduces the volume of food waste put into the Green Cone, and is an eco-friendly way to dispose of your compostable materials.


Pros

Cons

  • Is hands-off and effortless after setup
  • Looks nice in your yard
  • Prevents odors from escaping
  • Requires outdoor space
  • Doesn't create compost for you to use
  • Is a bit expensive

The bottom line: what’s the best way to compost at home?

Lomi against a tiled wall next to food scraps on a cutting board

The best way to compost is always going to depend on your personal situation. Whichever method lines up most with your needs and what kind of space you have available will be great for you. However, if you're looking for a quick and easy way to get a steady supply of dirt, look no further than Lomi.

Thousands of people have already started eliminating their food waste with Lomi, and have been loving it. Even if you have no time, energy, or space to compost, Lomi will get rid of your kitchen scraps and supply you with nutrient-rich dirt you can use immediately to help your indoor and outdoor plants.


You should now have a good idea of the different ways you can compost and which methods will be best for you. If composting with Lomi is the right choice for you, you can easily order one online today! However you choose to compost, it's fantastic that you've decided to be more environmentally friendly with your waste. Hopefully, your next steps will be as rewarding for you as they are for the planet.


Written by: Sereana Simpson