10 Tips for Composting in the City

Use It Wisely
A little compost can feed a beautiful lawn.
A little compost can feed a beautiful lawn.

Compost gives a boost to any indoor or outdoor plant. Spread several inches on your vegetable garden in the fall and mix it into the soil come springtime. When planting, put a handful in each hole. Once plants begin to grow, add a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) around their base. If your compost contains plant cuttings or grass clippings that have been sprayed with pesticides, don't use it on fruits or vegetables.

After the ground has softened in spring, loosen the top few inches of your flowerbeds and mix in a layer of compost. Then, use it as mulch to control weeds and conserve moisture. Add compost twice a year to potted plants and window boxes to make your flowers flourish. Or, use it to make your own potting soil using two parts of your mixture to one part sand.

Top dressing with compost will green up your grass. If you have a spreader, that's the easiest way to apply it. If not, a shovel and rake will work. Treat bald spots by mixing compost into the soil before reseeding.

Apply up to 2 inches (a little over 5 centimeters) under trees to reduce moisture loss, stabilize soil temperature and provide nutrients. Compost placed directly against the bark of the tree could cause rot and invite pests, so be sure to leave some space.

Use your compost wisely and you'll soon be enjoying the fruits, and vegetables, of your labor; your daylilies and lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood; and your plants will never be happier.

Related Articles


  • Bailey, Owen. "Learn to Compost in Your Backyard." The Sierra Club Foundation. (April 12, 2011)http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=CompostingGreenTips&s_src=N11ZSEGO03&s_subsrc=Composting&gclid=CODagoCwl6gCFYob4Qod6HT8Cg
  • Farm Aid. "Is it possible to compost in the city?" June 2007. (April 12, 2011)http://www.farmaid.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=qlI5IhNVJsE&b=2723877&content_id={55D38A54-7BE5-4456-BF49-CE9386B7DFE8}&notoc=1&msource=adwords&gclid=CKX8x5Svl6gCFdFX4QodqVFoCg
  • McLaughlin, Chris. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting." Alpha Books. 2010
  • National Sierra Club. "Composting Tips: Warm, Hot or Cold." The Sierra Club Foundation. (April 12, 2011)http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/go-green/composting/composting-tips-warm-hot-or-cold
  • National Sierra Club. "Home Composting." The Sierra Club Foundation. (April 12, 2011)http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/go-green/composting/composting
  • The City of New York. "Checking Moisture." (April 12, 2011) http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_outdoor_moisture.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Chemical Decomposers-Microorganisms." (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/science_decomposters_mircroorganisms.shtml
  • The City of New York. "How to Know When Compost is Done." (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_outdoor_done.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Materials to Compost." (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_outdoor_materials.shtm
  • The City of New York. "New York City Outdoor Composting Guide." June 2009 (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/downloads/pdf/materials/nyc_composting_guide.pdf
  • The City of New York. "Setting Up Your Outdoor Bin." (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_outdoor_setup.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Troubleshooting Outdoor Composting." (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_outdoor_problems.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Turning the Compost Pile." (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_outdoor_turning.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Using Compost for Trees and Shrubs." (April 13, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_using_trees.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Using Compost on Lawns/Turf." (April 13, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_using_lawn.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Using Compost to Grow Plants." (April, 13, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_using_plants.shtml
  • The City of New York. "Using Your Compost." (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/edu_using.shtml
  • The City of New York. "What is Compost?" (April 12, 2011)http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/science.shtml
  • University of Illinois Extension. "Composting Basics." (April 12, 2011)http://urbanext.illinois.edu/homecomposting/basics.html
  • University of Illinois Extension. "Composting Troubleshooting." (April 12, 2011)http://urbanext.illinois.edu/homecomposting/troubleshooting.html
  • University of Illinois Extension. "Follow the Basic 1-2-3." (April 12, 2011)http://urbanext.illinois.edu/homecomposting/follow123.html


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