Posts Tagged With: compost pile

10 Good-Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin

How to Build a Compost BinAs you clean up your yard this summer, consider how you plan to dispose of all that yard waste. Maybe it’s time to start composting grass clippings and weeds. Building a compost bin can be as simple as looking around your yard for materials you can recycle and make into a container. Before we start construction though, let’s decide how best to set up our composting station.

  1. Define your composting needs – Do you want to get rid of yard waste or do you want to commit fully to recycling and add kitchen scraps into the mix?
  2. Check for local restrictions – In some areas you have to set compost bins a certain distance from lot lines. This is particularly true in urban areas.
  3. Consider the physical work required – Compost piles need to be “turned” to allow materials to aerate and to avoid clumping. You will need to shovel the compost material with a pitch fork or other heavy-duty tool, which means your upper body can get a good workout. If “turning” compost does not sound like fun, consider constructing a “tumbler”-style bin and crank your way to the perfect compost.
  4. Determine a location – Find a spot in your yard where the bin can benefit from an adequate mix of sun and shade. Full sun will dry out your pile and full shade won’t allow the pile to dry out enough. Avoid putting the bin close to trees so it doesn’t damage the roots when you stake it into ground.
  5. Place close to a water source – Watering your compost pile is the key to promoting good breakdown of materials. A compost pile should be kept moist like a damp sponge, but not soaking wet.
  6. Keep drainage in mind – Make sure the location for the bin is level and offers good drainage.
  7. Plan for good ventilation – Compost piles need adequate ventilation for the materials to decompose.
  8. Size always matters – Build a bin that is not less than 3 feet by 3 feet or greater than 5 feet by 5 feet. Too small and the compost may become compacted; too large and it will not get adequate air circulation.
  9. What’s that smell? – If you are adding kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable peels then your bin may attract pests. Burying the peels in the compost will deter critters from creeping into your compost pile. You can add calcium or lime to keep any unwanted smells down, too.
  10. What will the neighbors think? – Once you have decided where to build, consider how others might view your gardening project. Camouflaging the bin with lattice or high growing shrubs to block the view will help it blend into the landscape.

After considering these factors, you are ready to select the design of your compost bin. You can build a composter out of a number of different materials. If you are using wooden slats, be sure to keep a 1-½” space between the boards for good air flow. If you need to keep rodents out of your pile, incorporate chicken wire and a secure lid into your design. Avoid using plywood since the moisture in the compost pile will cause it to break apart. Building a compost bin can be as simple or a complex as you want to make it. All you need are the materials, some basic tools like a hammer and circular saw and your imagination.

Once you’ve completed your brand new compost bin, it’s time to start layering. Start off a compost pile by layering equal measures of brown waste, green waste and top soil. Water the pile once you’re done and wait for nature to take its course. After a week or so, “turn” your pile and work in new materials. You don’t have to continue layering once your compost pile has started.

Brown Waste vs. Green Waste vs. Other Waste

Here’s a quick look at what constitutes brown and green waste, and what other materials are suitable for a compost pile:

Brown Waste:

  • Dead leaves
  • Shredded paper
  • Coffee grounds and coffee filter
  • Cardboard
  • Woody hedge clippings and twigs
  • Sawdust
  • Hay or straw

Green Waste:

  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Flowers
  • Nettles
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Vegetable crop residue
  • Young weeds
  • Herbivore manure
  • Tea leaves

Other Waste:

  • Egg Shells
  • Hair (both human and pet hair)
  • 100% pure wool or cotton
  • Vacuum bag contents
  • Wood ash

Find out what NOT to compost and more information in our blog, Go Green: Create a Compost Collection Pile.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your composting projects. From circular saws to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

*Photo Courtesy of House Logic
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Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tackle Spring Clean-Up in Your Yard with This Handy Checklist

spring clean-up checklistFor the gardener and do-it-yourself landscaper, springtime is nature’s way of giving you a little breathing space, a moment to reflect on how your yard creations are holding up through the tests of weather and time before the real growing season begins. Once you clear away winter’s debris, mulch or dead twigs, you can decide where to focus your efforts. Whether it be thinning out crowded areas, filling in bare spots or preparing your yard for new growth, buds and blooms. Here’s what you’ll need to start your spring clean-up and give your yard a fresh start.

Gather all the necessary tools…

If you’ve got a lot of clean-up to do, and you like trying out different kinds of equipment, consider renting a soil conditioner attachment. You can grade, soften, mix, level, rake, remove debris as well as pulverize and prepare seedbeds, remove entire lawns and weeds, all with this one tool that attaches to a Bobcat. Sweet!

Complete the spring yard clean-up checklist:

  1. Prune dead and damaged branches back to live stems and clip off wayward shoots to an intersecting branch. Summer-flowering shrubs should be pruned before the plant buds. Wait to prune spring-flowering plants until after blooms fade.
  1. Trim overgrown evergreens back, starting from the bottom of the tree trunk to eliminate dead branches and encourage an appealing tree shape.
  1. Cut back flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches, which encourages new growth.
  1. Thin crowded beds by digging up perennial bulbs. Instead of throwing them away, divide the extra bulbs, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them in other areas of the yard.
  1. If rose bushes are winter-damaged, cut back to 1 inch below the blackened area. Remove older woody canes on climbing rose bushes, fastening younger canes gently in place with jute twine or Velcro fasteners.
  1. Rake out fallen leaves, dead foliage and annuals, as well as spent mulch to prepare for a new layer once your planting is finished.
  1. Spread an appropriate fertilizer for existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that April showers can carry it to the roots.
  1. Inspect any drip irrigation lines and repair if necessary.
  1. Give beds a clean edge with a shovel or a weed eater.
  2. Remove damaged grass turf to prepare for spring seeding. It’s also a good time to test the soil’s pH and add an appropriate fertilizer, if needed.

And finally, feed the compost pile! Dump all debris, cuttings, foliage and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, and you’re done…at least until it’s time for spring seeding! And as always, for questions and comments please visit our website or leave a comment in the section below. Happy yard cleaning!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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