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Home composting and water butts

Composting is good for your garden and the environment.

Making compost is a natural way to turn your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient-rich food for your garden. It's easy to make and use. Compost improves your soil's condition and your plants and flowers will love it.

Composting at home is important, as it allows for any avoidable and non-avoidable food waste to be broken down in your own home and used in your garden, as opposed to being transported to a food waste treatment facility. It also helps reduce the cost for us to dispose of household waste.

Have a look at the Recycle Now website for more information about why it's important to compost.

What you can compost at home

 Green waste Brown waste No thanks
Uncooked fruit and vegetables and their peelings  Paper towels and napkins (but not those that have been used to mop up anything containing meat such as gravy)  Glossy paper and magazines
Teabags  Scrunched up cardboard  Cooked food
Ground coffee   Dry leaves and twigs Dairy products
Grass cuttings Non-recyclable paper  Meat, fish or bones
Soft prunings   Straw and hay Pet poo and litter
Old bedding plants   Sawdust and wood chippings - sparingly Fats and oils
Cut flowers  Corn cobs and stalks  Weeds gone to seed
Annual weeds  Eggshells - will still be visible in finished compost, but adds calcium to your soil Stale bread

Food waste container

If you live in Bournemouth or Christchurch, you can put your food waste (including any dairy products, meat, fish, bones and stale bread) in your food waste container. We'll take it away and recycle it for you.

Why do I need to compost when my waste will break down in landfill anyway?

When food waste is sent to landfill, air cannot get to the organic waste. As the waste breaks down it creates a harmful greenhouse gas, methane, which damages the Earth's atmosphere.

When this same waste is composted above ground at home, oxygen helps the waste to decompose without creating much methane. Home composting is good news for the planet.

Get started with home composting

How to begin your own compost heap:

  • for the best results from your compost bin, put it in a sunny spot on well-drained soil
  • compost can take 6-12 months to fully mature, so spring is the ideal time to compost
  • compost bins need two types of materials - greens and browns
  • green materials include grass clippings and fruit and vegetable peelings. Brown materials are items like hedge trimmings, cardboard and paper
  • mixing the contents now and again with a fork or broom handle will also add air and help the rotting process
  • cut down on your trips to the garden by keeping a kitchen caddy (a small kitchen bin with a lid) to collect waste for your compost bin
  • too many leaves in a compost bin will slow the process. Collected leaves make great compost of their own. Simply put into black plastic bags, add water, make some holes in the bag, and leave for at least a year. The leaf mould produced is an excellent peat substitute and can be used as a mulch or soil improver
  • if your compost bin does not have a lid, cover it with a plastic sheet or old carpet

Your compost is ready when it does not look like anything you put in the bin.