Stage 1 fire restrictions, enacted for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

Backyard Composting
compost bin in backyard

Backyard Composting

Getting Started

Backyard composting requires a little bit of space, a bin, and a basic understanding of the composting process.
Compost provides a long-term source of many nutrients not typically found in Colorado’s soils. Compost also helps your soil hold water longer.

Get the Dirt on Composting

Spring Compost Workshop Packet

Fall Garden Cleanup and Backyard Compost Workshop Packet

Compost Ingredients

Greens (Nitrogen-rich) Browns (Carbon-rich)
Fresh grass clippingsDry leaves
Garden trimmingsDried grass clippings
Fruit and vegetable scrapsHay or straw
Coffee grounds & filtersShredded paper
Tea bagsFinely chopped wood chips & bark
Manure (plant eaters only)Old potting soil

Do not include in backyard composting

Meat, fish, poultry & bones
Dairy products, oils, grease & fat
Weeds with seeds
Cat and dog waste
Charcoal or Duraflame® ashes
Treated wood products
Cat litter

Remedies for When Pile Is Not Composting

What if…Possible CauseSuggested Remedy
Pile not compostingToo dryAdd water until slightly damp and turn
Pile not compostingToo much brown matterAdd fresh green matter (see chart above) and turn pile
Pile smells rotten and/or attracts fliesToo wet and/or too many food scraps or lawn clippingsAdd brown material (see chart above), particle size of 1-2 inches will keep pile from matting down
Pile smells rotten and/or attracts fliesNot enough airTurn it
Animals in pileNot maintaining or turning pileBury food wastes and keep pile maintained and turned
Compost is damp and warm in the middle but no where elsePile is too smallCollect more material and mix the old ingredients into the new pile
Center of the pile is dryNot enough waterMoisten materials while turning the pile
Nothing is happeningPile won’t heat upMay need moisture and more greens such as coffee grounds to kick-start the process again

Using Your Compost

Compost is ready when it is dark brown, crumbly and when the ingredients are not recognizable. You can use compost in two stages:

Finished Compost

  • Use as a soil amendment in gardens (anytime)
  • Use as an ingredient for potting soil
  • Place around plants, trees, or on lawns as a mulch or top-dressing

Partially Finished Compost

(all particles are not completely broken down)

  • Place around plants, trees, or on lawns as a mulch or top-dressing
  • Spread compost in your garden in the fall so it will enrich the soil over the winter to help your spring planting

Contact Us

Resource Conservation Division



Boulder County Recycling Center
1901 63rd St.
Boulder, CO 80301
Map and Directions
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.