How To Compost At Home: The Ultimate Beginner Guide

Woman holding a handful of compost

Composting isn’t some complex process that can only be done by professionals. In fact, you can learn how to make compost at home in just a few steps. That means soon you’ll be able to enjoy the many benefits of home composting, which includes living a more eco-friendly lifestyle and creating healthier soil for your garden.

If you’re not too familiar with composting, don’t worry. We’re here to tell you all about outdoor and indoor composting methods, what not to compost, and so much more valuable information to help you get started. Here are a few different sections we’ll cover in our home composting guide below!

Before we get into all these topics, let’s start with composting 101. How do you start composting at home?


How to start composting at home?

A hand adding food scraps to a bin

Composting at home is easy. If you plan to compost in your home backyard, you can follow these simple steps to get started. 

  1. Find bare earth to begin your compost pile: This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to get into your heap.
  2. Lay down a few inches of dry materials like twigs: These materials help with drainage and prevent your pile from getting overly moist.
  3. Add layers of dry and moist compost materials: Food scraps are considered moist and leaves are dry, for example. 
  4. Ensure the compost is moist without getting too wet: You can pour a cup of water over your pile or simply wait for rain.
  5. Turn compost regularly: This allows oxygen to be evenly distributed throughout the pile. 

This method is very effective if you plan on composting outdoors, but it will not work if you do not have a backyard. Luckily, there are many other indoor and outdoor methods to consider that work just as well. Let’s explore these methods so you can make a confident decision about composting at home.

But first, let's start by looking at some of the top benefits of home composting!



Top 6 benefits of home composting

Composting benefits

People begin composting for many different reasons, as the benefits of home composting vary. There are far too many benefits to name them all, but here are 6 that are sure to motivate you to get started.  

  1. Massive landfills are replacing natural habitats and displacing wildlife at an alarming rate. Much of this waste is from food scraps, which you can avoid contributing to by composting your leftovers!
  2. You can take the compost you’ve created and then add it to your garden. Your compost will make your garden healthier by reintroducing nutrients, microbes, and other beneficial organisms to your soil.
  3. The tasks associated with composting make you aware of how much food waste you’re actually creating. You can then take this information and adjust your lifestyle if you think you’re being too wasteful. 
  4. The anaerobic environment of landfills prevents waste from organically composting. By composting your scraps in an aerobic environment, you’re preventing them from creating methane gas (which is heating up the atmosphere). 
  5. Compost helps soil retain the right amount of moisture, which can help you grow lots of fruits and vegetables in your garden!
  6. Does your community have a local garden? If so, you can begin offering your leftover compost to build a stronger garden and contribute to your community in a meaningful way. 

As stated above, these benefits are just a glimpse into the many advantages of home composting. To learn more, check out our article on the many benefits of composting!


 

4 different ways to compost at home 

There are many different ways to compost at home, including both backyard and indoor methods. Knowing about each of them will help you make informed choices with your home composting going forward. Of the various composting methods at home, here are 4 that are well-suited to beginners. 


1. Cold composting

A lady emptying scraps into a compost pile

Of all the ways to compost, cold composting is probably the most tried, tested, and reliable. It’s also one of the most popular forms of backyard composting. Cold composting is an outdoor method in which you create one or more compost piles somewhere on your property (preferably in between some wood pallets). You then add organic materials like yard waste or coffee grounds to the pile and let nature decompose it for you. 

Now if you want to make compost quickly, cold composting is not for you. This method requires a lot of patience and the willingness to go out and turn the pile every couple of days to ensure the pile is getting enough oxygen. If you want fresh compost for your garden beds ASAP, you may want to opt for an electric composter. 

Use this method if: you have a lot of organic waste, you don’t mind waiting for compost, you have enough space in your backyard, and you’re willing to go outside to turn the compost regularly. 


2. Vermicomposting

Someone with a handful of shredded compost

Vermicomposting, also referred to as worm composting, is a method that involves introducing worms into a compost pile to decompose the organic waste. Worms, red wigglers in particular, are very effective at accelerating the decomposition process. 

This composting method can be done indoors or outdoors. All you need is one or multiple worm bins, though you should ensure the bins have enough holes so your worms are able to breathe. Then simply fill your bins with food waste, green items, brown items, and worms. Your finished compost will likely be very nutrient-rich and a great addition to your garden. 

Use this method if: you don’t mind handling worms, you need an indoor composting method, and you want to accelerate the decomposition process to get your compost faster.


3. Electric composter

Electric composter lomi

If the idea of handling worms doesn’t sound very appealing, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of worm-free composting methods out there. You could, for example, purchase a home compost machine like Lomi. This electric composter is a fantastic choice for people who want to compost indoors and don’t have a ton of space. 

This compost machine for home is quiet, efficient, and can be placed on your kitchen counter alongside your other appliances. Electric food composters like Lomi are ideal for people who want quick composting at home, as they can break down your waste far faster than most traditional methods. 

Use this method if: you live in an apartment, you don’t have access to outdoor space, you live in a small apartment. 

Lomi by Pela

Lomi

★★★★★

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


4. Aerobic composting

Small compost bin filled with food waste

Aerobic composting is one of the best ways to home compost, especially if you’re new to composting. This method relies almost entirely on the microbes in garden soil to convert your food scraps into compost. Given that the aerobic method can be done in large or very small batches, it’s ideal for people looking for ways to compost in an apartment

You can go about doing the aerobic method by creating a small pile in a lidded plastic storage container. You’ll also need a trowel of some sort to bury your waste in a layer of soil, which you should lay down in the container. Don’t forget to drill a grid of air holes throughout the bin so the oxygen can be evenly distributed through your compost pile!

Use this method if: you don’t have a lot of organic waste, you don’t have access to an outdoor space, you live in a small apartment, you don’t mind the smell, and you want something simple.


What can you compost at home?

Compostable vegetable scraps on a kitchen cutting board

Before you throw anything on your compost pile, you’re probably asking yourself “what can I compost at home?”. If you don’t know what to compost, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basics. 

Organic waste is compostable while inorganic waste isn’t compostable. It really is that simple. If the item you’re trying to dispose of was once or has come from living things is compostable. This includes plants and food. It’s important to note that not everything that can be composted should be composted with your other scraps (human waste, pet waste, etc.). 

So, what can be composted at home? Here are a few notable examples of what you should and shouldn’t add to your bin:

Category

Compostable Items

Non-Compostable Items

Kitchen scraps

  • Fruit and veggie scraps
  • Dairy and meat

Household items

  • Paper towel
  • Diapers

Pet waste

  • Cat litter
  • Dog or cat feces

Office items

  • Paper
  • Glossy, coated, or colored paper

Garden waste

  • Grass clippings
  • Diseased plants or chemical-treated plants

There’s actually a very important divide between different types of compostable waste. There are green materials and brown materials. Green items are quite high in nitrogen while brown items are high in carbon. Finding the right balance between brown and green items in your pile is key to creating successful compost. 

Green scraps tend to be moist. Some great examples of green items that you can add to your compost pile include grass clippings, plant trimmings, eggshells, cut flowers, coffee grounds, tea bags, weeds, seaweed, and livestock manure. 

In contrast, brown items are usually dry. Common examples of brown items to add to your compost pile include straw, fallen leaves, sawdust, wood chips, matches, shredded paper, hay, pine needles, dry cornstalk, and small branches. By mixing brown and green scraps together, you can accelerate the decomposition process, nourish your compost, and prevent it from becoming too dry or overly moist. 

To learn more, please check out our 100+ items you should or shouldn’t compost. This detailed list will help you add the right things to your compost pile and avoid potentially dangerous additions.


 

 


4 best home compost bins for effortless composting

Now that you’re in the know about some of the most common composting methods, let’s explore a few popular compost bins for effortless home composting. All of these bins have their own unique advantages that make them a great addition to your household or backyard. 


1. Lomi 

Lomi composter filled with produce and eggshells

The electric kitchen composter Lomi is one of the best ways to compost at home. Unlike most methods, Lomi uses heat and humidity to create the optimal environment for microbes to quickly decompose organic waste. The best part? There’s little to no effort on your part. This smart composter does all the work itself, in one compact, quiet, and odor-free package. 

A standout benefit of using Lomi is that it’s capable of breaking down more types of food waste than most indoor methods. Along with fruit and vegetable scraps, Lomi can also break down meat scraps, soft bones, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags (if made of natural materials), yard trimmings, grains, and so much more. This is an impressive feat. What other device allows you to compost meat and is capable of breaking down Lomi-approved bioplastics?

Price: $499

Why we recommend it: Lomi is highly efficient and capable of breaking down a wider array of organic waste than most methods. It’s also quiet and prevents odors from escaping. 


2. VermiHut Plus 5-Tray Worm Compost Bin

Different trays of vermitek worm composting bin
Image Credit: Vermitek

The VermiHut Plus worm Compost Bin is a fantastic choice for anyone interested in vermicomposting. This bin makes it easy to convert your waste into fertilizer, as its 5 trays allow plenty of worms to break down your food scraps. 

The system is far easier to navigate than you might assume. The five trays stack on top of each other, with all liquid draining to the very bottom. You’ll have no trouble accessing any of the individual trays, whether you intend on adding scraps or removing finished compost. The VermiHut bin offers countless other standout features, including increased airflow design, a built-in coconut mat to control odors, moisture control, and fruit fly control. The bin is also ant-resistant, with a set of ant-trappers being included in your purchase.  

Price: $109.95

Why we recommend it: VermiHut’s 5 trays allow you to compost large amounts of organic waste at one time. The system is also very straightforward and user-friendly. 


3. Exaco ECO 2000 Kitchen Compost Pail 

Green exaco eco 2000 kitchen compost pail
Image Credit: Amazon

Do you need an affordable indoor bin that can carry over 2 gallons worth of food scraps? Look no further than the Exaco ECO 2000 Kitchen Compost Pail. At just $19.99, the Exaco ECO 2000 is easily one of the most cost-effective composting bins out there. 

That said, you shouldn’t mistake this compost pail’s cheapness for poor quality. The Exaco ECO 2000 is actually made from high-density polyethylene, which means it can hold plenty of food scraps without breaking down or cracking. It’s also dishwasher safe and comes with a carbon filter to help prevent odors from escaping. What’s not to love? 

Price: $19.99

Why we recommend it: The Exaco ECO 2000 Kitchen Compost Pail is one of the most low-maintenance and affordable composting bins there is. The included carbon filters also do a very good job at reducing potential odors. 


4. VIVOSUN Outdoor Tumbling Composter

Large outdoor tumbler for home composting

When it comes to compost tumblers, VIVOSUN’s outdoor tumbler composter is one of the absolute best. This sturdy compost tumbler comes with twin chambers that allow you to create compost in batches. This makes it a favorite among gardeners with lots of organic waste. Another standout benefit of this tumbler is that it’s made of galvanized steel. This sturdy, weather-resistant tumbler is sure to last you for years to come. 

To use this composter, all you need to do is fill it with food scraps (while maintaining a good balance of brown and green materials). Then, simply rotate the tumbler to ensure that the oxygen is evenly distributed through the pile. You can also make use of the tumbler’s adjustable air vents. These features will help accelerate the decomposition process and create healthier compost for your vegetable garden. 

Price: $105.99

Why we recommend it: The VIVOSUN outdoor tumbling composter is reliable, sturdy, high-quality, and efficient. It’s a great choice for gardeners who want to be able to work on two batches of compost at one time. 


What is the best way to compost at home?

A pile of compost

The best way to compost at home depends on your lifestyle and preferences. If you like spending time outdoors and don’t mind a chore that takes some effort, you could opt for cold composting or vermicomposting. 

If you want something low-maintenance or a method that’s perfectly suited to small apartments, you may want to consider an electric countertop composter instead. There is so much to appreciate about the traditional methods, but electric composters are a quick and easy alternative that is simply more realistic for some people’s lifestyles. 

All to say, if you want to say goodbye to chemical fertilizers and begin making compost that functions as a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden beds, you can go about it in a number of ways. Successful composting can be done through all different methods, whether it’s trench, hot, or outdoor composting. So long as you have a bin, some fruit and vegetable scraps, and the right balance of green and brown materials, you can produce finished compost without much effort. 


9 useful resources to learn more about composting

Now that you know about several composting methods and bins, you have everything you need to create successful compost. However, you can take things a step further by exploring a few of the incredibly useful resources we’ve linked below:

  1. Epic Gardening: 6 Ways to Compost - The Epic Gardening YouTube channel offers so much informative content about composting. This includes how to use your compost to nourish your garden.
  2. The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Composting - This guide is packed with tips and tricks for all different composting methods. You’re sure to find lots of information that’s relevant to you and your composting goals.
  3. The Rodale Book of Composting - Deborah Martin’s detailed Rodale Book of Composting is a trusted composting guide for country and city dwellers alike. 
  4. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide - This guide is another book of Deborah Martin’s (and Barbara Pleasant) that covers composting for beginners. Once you’ve read this book, you’ll know all about putting your mature compost to good use. 
  5. Let It Rot! The Gardener’s Guide to Composting - Let It Rot! by Stu Campbell is a fantastic composting for beginners book, first published in 1998. 
  6. Compost Guide Blog - The Compost Guide Blog is among the more straightforward and beginner-friendly composting resources online. 
  7. Compost City - Rebecca Louie’s book Compost City is an absolute must-have for any city dweller interested in decomposing their food waste. As we’ve proven above, you don’t need a large property to dispose of food scraps or make your own compost.
  8. How to Make Compost - The Simplest Easy Method to Compost Piles! - Growit Buildit offers lots of valuable content for anyone interested in composting materials to create finished compost that benefits your garden and reduces your carbon footprint. This particular video will help you create a pile with yard waste, grass clippings, wet materials, and more.
  9. Honesty Modern - Jen Panaro founded the Honestly Modern blog in 2013. Since then, it has become a highly trusted resources for all things composting, including worm composter tips for beginners, compost FAQs, and more. 

 

With our helpful guide, and the great resources listed above, you’ll know all the basics of how to compost at home. Soon you’ll be able to convert yard waste, nitrogen-rich material, and carbon-rich material into nourishing soil for your garden. 

Of course, there’s always more to learn about hot composting, compost systems, and other ways of creating nutrient-rich soil. If you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to check out our composting tips for beginners article if you want to expand your knowledge. You’re also welcome to contact us with any questions you may have about Lomi or composting in general. We’d be happy to hear from you. 


Written by: E Sawden