New Compost Ordinance (Sec. 104-266)
Composting yard waste and food scraps (fruits and vegetables only) is another way to protect local streams and Lake Superior from nutrient-laden runoff. Plus, it can provide your gardens with homemade, nutrient-rich soil. Learn more about composting below.
Looking for other ways to green your yard while protecting water quality? Native grasses and wildflowers are increasingly used in gardens and landscaping. They are aesthetically pleasing, easy to maintain, and provide great water quality benefits due to the deep root systems and ability to infiltrate stormwater runoff while also providing habitat for pollinators and birds.
Learn more about Native Lawns by following this link.
New compost pile standards:
- Maximum of 64 square feet
- A residential compost pile should not exceed 6 feet in height and 15 feet in length
- Compost piles shall be located in the rear yard out of any drainage area and out of any Native Lawn area
- A compost pile should be located 5 feet or more from any rear or side lot line and 10 feet from the nearest occupied dwelling on an adjacent property
- Compost piles must be enclosed or placed in such a way as not to allow materials to be windblown
- Residential compost piles must be free of garbage, pet waste, meat scraps, or other materials that may attract vermin
Composting is a fun and rewarding way to turn unwanted yard and kitchen waste into a valuable, nutrient rich material. Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.
Natural composting, or biological decomposition, began with the first plants on earth and has been going on ever since. As vegetation falls to the ground, it slowly decays, providing minerals and nutrients needed for plants, animals, and microorganisms. Mature compost, however, includes the production of high temperatures to destroy pathogens and weed seeds that natural decomposition does not destroy.
Benefits of Composting
Making Compost Successfully
So you've got the bin, now what? Composting is more than just throwing a bunch of material into a pile and waiting. Of course, you could compost this way, but if you want quicker results, here's what you do:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends that you mix one part green materials with two parts brown material to form your compost pile. For faster composting, chop materials into smaller pieces. Mix in one inch of soil and keep the pile as moist as a wrung out sponge. Make sure to turn the pile once a week to let air in. If you follow these guidelines you will have finished compost in about four weeks. If you do not turn the pile often enough or don't watch the moisture level, it could take up to a year to break down.
What to Compost
What Not to Compost
If your compost smells funny or is not progressing, follow the guidelines below. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also has a problem solving guide.
|Bad odor||Not enough air or too much green material||Mix the pile or add in more brown material|
|Composts too slowly||Not enough water||Moisten and mix the pile|
|Pile is damp and warm only in the center||Pile is too small||Collect more material and mix it into the pile|
|Pile is damp and sweet smelling, but no heat||Lack of green material||Mix in more green material, such as fresh grass clippings, yard trimmings, and weeds (without seeds)|
Using Worms to Compost
Feeling really adventurous or looking for an option to compost year-round in our cold climate? Consider vermicomposting!
Worms are often used to aid in the composting process. They will quickly turn food scraps into usable compost. However, with worms come a whole new set of things to know.
- Red Wigglers are commonly used for vermicomposting. Other species, like the ones found on the sidewalk after a storm, do not survive easily in worm compost bins.
- Not all compost bins can be used as worm bins. You may need to find, or build, a bin suitable for vermicomposting. Preferably, it should be shallower as these worms tend to feed towards the surface.
- If the bin is left outside in the winter, it will need to be insulated to keep the worms alive. In Superior, it's best to keep vermicompost indoors. If properly maintained there will be no odor mess.
- For more information on how to start your own vermicomposting bin, check out the WDNR website.
You can also Listen to a webinar on composting.