Great candidates for home composting include yard materials—like leaves, grass trimmings and twigs—and food scraps. Decomposition and recycling of organics are an essential part of soil building and healthy plant growth in forests, meadows and your home garden. By using compost, you return organic matter to the earth, which:
- Improves plant growth by adding essential nutrients to any soil
- Helps suppress plant diseases and pests
- Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers
- Reduces organic materials at home
- Help extend the life of the County's landfill
- Maintain a moist lawn and root system
- Reduces the need for Baltimore County to collect and process material, preventing pollution and saving tax dollars
Learn more about the process of creating compost below.
Baltimore County residents may now compost some food scraps with yard materials in a regular compost pile.
For Large Amounts—Composting with Worms
Vermicomposting offers a beneficial and legal way to dispose of large amount of food scraps, help the environment and create a valuable byproduct for use in gardens and houseplants. Once you get your worm bin set up, the worms will do most of the work.
For Small Amounts—Soil Incorporation
Soil incorporation is a simple and maintenance-free method involving burying small amounts of food scraps in the ground to promote the natural composting process.
Grasscycling is the practice of cutting your grass and allowing the clippings to lie on the lawn, rather than bagging this material. You could also compost the grass clippings, or use them as mulch or soil additive.
- Cut back on time spent bagging grass
- Grass clippings left on your lawn reduce water loss from evaporation, conserving water
- Longer grass blades protect soil from the sun
- Using about one inch of dried grass clippings on top of the soil can also reduce weeds, the risk of erosion and improve soil texture
While mowing the grass, simply:
- Remove the bag so grass will be recycled back onto your lawn.
- Never cut more than one third of the length off of the grass blade in one mowing. Be sure to keep your mower blade sharp as a dull mower blade can tear the grass, resulting in a ragged appearance at the leaf tip.
- Spring—Two inches in length
- Summer—Gradually raise the height to three to four inches
- Late fall—Two inches
Leafcycling is the practice of mowing fallen leaves on your lawn and allowing them to decompose over time. Shredded or chopped leaves can also be used as a thin layer to your lawn in the fall, and as mulch around trees, shrubs and perennials.
When grass grows in soil that contains lots of organic matter:
- The lawn is easier to care for and looks better
- Reduces the chance of weeds showing up
- Helps conserve water by preventing runoff
- Saved time and effort by not having to rake and bag leaves
- Till or dig leaves into vegetable and annual flowerbeds to improve the soil quality
As an alternative to raking and bagging leaves, simply:
- Run your lawn mower over your fallen leaves.
- If using a standard lawn mower—It is recommended that you run over the fallen leaves at least twice to ensure the pieces are small enough to promote more rapid decomposition.
- If using a “mulching” lawn mower (recommended)—These mowers are designed to chop the leaves multiple times before discharging the mulched leaves back on the lawn.
- Decide how to use your leaves.
- For the lawn—Let the leaves lie on a thin layer on the lawn.
- For gardens or as mulch—A layer of about four to six inches is recommended as the leaves will settle after a few rains, creating an ideal three-inch layer.
- The finely chopped leaves will decompose over time, becoming food for the microbes that populate a healthy soil.