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Choose the right compost system for your needs!


Compost systems vary depending on what materials you want to compost and the quantity of materials you have. Here are the most popular types of composting methods.

Holding Units

These compost systems require the least amount of labor and are great for beginners who do not generate a large amount of yard materials. 

  • Designed for non-woody yard wastes such as grass clippings, leaves, and trimmings from garden plants and flowers.
  • Holding units can be portable and moved around a property.
  • This method can take from six months to two years to produce compost from yard materials.
  • Holding units can be made from a variety of materials including yard stakes and chicken wire. Some people prefer a commercially manufactured compost bin.

Turning Units

These units consist of a series of three or more bins that allow waste to be turned on a regular schedule.

  • Most appropriate for residents with a large volume of yard materials.
  • Designed for non-woody yard materials such as grass clippings, leaves, and trimmings from garden plants/flowers.
  • Designed to place yard materials in one of the bins, then transfer materials from the bottom of the pile to the second bin when the first bin becomes full. This process is repeated again and again. Each time material is moved from one bin to the next, it helps to aerate the pile and hasten decomposition.
  • These systems produce high quality compost in a short period of time, but require considerably more labor than a holding unit.
  • The unit can be built using wood, a combination of wood and wire, or concrete blocks.


These smaller systems, which are generally raised off the ground with a handle for rotating the bin, have the fastest rate for generating finished compost from yard materials.

  • By regularly rotating and tumbling the yard materials, these units aerate and heat contents to a finished compost in as little as three weeks.
  • The systems are designed to be turned daily.
  • It is possible to maintain relatively high temperatures in tumbler systems because the container acts as insulation and the constant turning keeps the microbes aerated and active.

Next step: Collecting Materials to Compost

Revised March 24, 2014

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