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What is Compost?

Benefits of Composting

Using Finished Compost

Compost & Nutrition


Composting Systems

Siting Your Compost Area



What to Compost

Stages of Composting

The Carbon:Nitrogen Ratio

Compost Activators

Turning Your Compost


Quick Start Guide

The Add-as-you-go Pile

The Batch Pile

Grass Clippings

Food Scraps

Leaves, Weeds &
Garden Debris

Compost Tea

Worm Composting


Troubleshooting Guide

Ask Professor Rot



Professor Rot says:

Siting your compost area in your yard is the next step after choosing your type of compost bin.

Try to create an area that has easy access and that allows you to expand in the future.


After selecting the type of compost bin or system to use in your backyard, you need to decide where to place it. This must be a location that you can comfortably get to (ease of access). It must also be a large enough space for the bin(s), stockpiled material, wheelbarrow, tools, etc.

Carefully plan your compost area so that it is a happy medium between your house (where the food scraps are coming from) and your garden/yard (where garden and yard debris are generated). Again, ease of access and room to maneuver or expand are important guidelines.

This page gives you numerous tips for siting your compost area. If you plan carefully from the get-go, you may save yourself some trouble later. Read the page from our book below for a quick overview. Observe the photographs further down for more ideas and comments.

Other good reads for this topic are: Composting Systems and Stockpiling.



Let's start with a few basic planning ideas that may dictate where you place your system.compost bin

  • Adequate air circulation around bin
    Your compost bin must need air circulation for decomposition to occur. Almost all commercial bins have air vents, but they are useless if blocked by vegetation, a wall or fence, or the like. Some homemade bins have too much air circulation; consequently they will not retain heat.
  • Out of full sun
    This is necessary to prevent excessive heat build-up in plastic bins. Partial shade is best. Full shade will cool the bin too much or too soon in spring and fall.
  • Placement on bare ground
    This is necessary for ease of drainage of a compost liquid by-product called leachate. This nutrient-rich "compost tea" is dearly loved by the critters in the soil, especially worms. Only place your bin on cement or a deck if you have a sealed bottom or pan. Some cities require this by law.
  • Away from large trees or pesky vines
    The roots of trees and vines steal nutrients from compost (believe it or not!) as any leachate or moisture drains out the bottom. These same roots can also migrate up into the bin.
  • Away from wooden structures
    Any structure susceptible to rot should not be in contact with decomposing debris. So, don't plan on siting your system against a wooden fence or a garage siding.



siting compost area
From Home Composting Made Easy by C. Forrest McDowell, PhD & Tricia Clark-McDowell
Copyright © 2007 by the authors



Siting in the Garden

It makes sense to have your compost bin in your garden where you generate organic material from vegetable and flower beds.

Such a location is convenient to both dispose of material and to access the finished compost to disseminate among your planting beds.

Make sure you consider the issue of full sun exposure in hot climates. The temperature inside the bin could heat up to over 200°F/93°C. Although such "flash heating" might allow for fast decomposition, it may also destroy a host of beneficial microorganisms necessary for moderate temperatures.

A privacy screen is an effective way to hide your composter, or to create a more aesthetic environment near the bin, as shown in the photo to the right.

Make sure you have a water source near your composting area so that you can easily moisten your compost pile when necessary.

compost bin
compost bin
compost bin

Siting Near a Fence or Wall

A fence or wall can give privacy as well as aesthetic appeal to a compost area.

Heat can also be reflected off such surfaces to help heat up the bin. A bin, however, in full sun next to a reflective surface can get intensely hot.

compost bin


compost bin

compost bin
compost bin
compost bin

Siting on a Deck

A compost tumbler, because it is so self-contained, may work well on a deck.

A problem may arise when you want to access the finished compost. Make sure you lay a tarp down when emptying the contents.

Never place a regular compost bin on a deck or concrete surface without a bottom pan to collect moisture.

compost bin

Siting Near a Back Door or Deck

As the picture to the right demonstrates, the compost bin is somewhat disguised from the social area of the deck. It can be accessed from the back door.

Commonsense tells you that siting your system somewhere between your garden area and back door is good.

compost bin
photo by Karim Nice

Siting in the Front Yard

This person creatively constructed a compost bin from brick. It has a top opening for raw material, and a bottom collecting area for the finished compost.

However, they elected to place the bin in their front yard, which may not be the most functional place for waste material collection and composting.

The point is, be a respectful neighbor when considering placing your system in the front yard.

compost bin

Siting on the Garden Fringe

The two systems shown are established on the garden border. One is well-constructed and aesthetic. The other is open-air with a somewhat messy sidepile of collected debris.

If you are going to have a nicely designed backyard, it makes sense to give attention to the aesthetic appeal of your compost area.

It can be pleasantly disguised by a fencing screen, tall hedges, a rose trellis, etc. Keep your compost area neat and tidy. Plant flowers and shrubs nearby to beautify your compost area.

compost bin
compost bin


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