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Save Water with Backyard Composting

A gardener mulches the plants to help reduce watering in Smartsville, Calif.

Published: 26 March 2021

Want to save water in your garden this summer? Try composting. Composting provides many benefits including minimizing run-off and increasing soil’s capacity to hold water. Creating your own compost pile at home is not only easy but a great way to recycle your yard clippings and kitchen scraps.

It usually takes three to four months for organic ingredients to break down and form compost, so starting now will ensure that you have a finished product ready in time to use in your garden this spring and fall. Compost and other organic mulches also help reduce plant water needs by as much as 30 percent, as well as reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Ready to get started on your own backyard compost pile? Here are a few ways to help you incorporate compost into your garden and landscape:

  • Composting works best when you have a mixture of “brown” and “green” materials in your pile. Vegetables, green grass clippings, and fruit scraps are good examples of “green” materials. Dead leaves, wood shavings, and shredded paper are examples of “brown” materials.
  • Compost breaks down faster in a pile at least 3 feet high and 3 feet in diameter, with all the materials broken into small pieces and well mixed.
  • Turn the pile. Turning your compost pile every so often optimizes conditions and serves to restore oxygen and moisture throughout, breaks up clumps and compacted materials, and blends “green” and “brown” components better.
  • Use a bin or compost container, if possible. Storing as a pile works too but bins can help neatly contain composting materials, discourage pests, and make the compost easier to turn.

For more information on composting, check out the EPA Composting at Home webpage.