Composting Yard Waste: Maintenance

You have learned how to create compost, now learn how to maintain it.


  • If compost is properly mixed and maintained, a final product may be obtained in one to two months under optimum summer conditions. It should be about half its original size with an earthy smell.
  • Proper moisture and air levels are especially important. Dry plant wastes quickly stop composting. Plant materials often dry on the outside while the center remains moist.
  • Water consistently to keep compost uniformly moist but not wet.
  • Use an aeration tool to reach into the compost to lift and move plant materials. Turn the entire mass occasionally to provide uniform aeration.
  • Small amounts of fresh materials may be added to compost, particularly if a vertical composting system is used.
  • In other systems, too much fresh material results in a mixture of fully-decomposed and fresh materials.
  • If enough material is available, make a new pile instead of combining fresh materials with nearly finished compost.

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