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Backyard Composting Meets Square-Foot Gardening

Posted November 12, 2020

The Benefits of Composting

Backyard composting growth is exploding as residents of all ages become aware of how much compostable materials are unnecessarily entering our landfills. Compostable materials make up 30-50% of the residential waste stream. These materials include food scraps, newspaper, dried plants, grass clippings, and other yard waste, leaves, and even cardboard. Many of us are doing our part by recycling glass, plastic, and cardboard each week in our community containers, but only a small number of us are composting. The burden of all the compostable material being thrown in the trash causes the premature closing of landfills and drives up tipping-fee costs for private and public waste haulers. New landfill development is expensive, unpopular with neighboring communities, and claims valuable land.

Landfill effluent gas is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic materials in landfills, and roughly 50% of that gas is methane. According to the EPA, municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 15.4% of these emissions in 2015.

Another benefit of backyard composting is that it rewards residents with nutrient-rich compost derived from their kitchen scraps and yard waste. That compost is ideal for planting beds and vegetable gardens.

Backyard Gardening Made Easy

An easy way to get started with backyard gardening is by building raised gardens or raised square-foot gardens. These gardens are raised above the ground by several inches to several feet. Both novice and master gardeners understand the benefits of raised square-foot gardening, and they appreciate the increased organization and yields of their plots. Many prefer raised garden beds due to poor soils in their area and less effort required in creating and maintaining the garden. They are typically laid right over the lawn without rototilling, so they’re fast and easy to set up.

Typically, potting soil with roughly 1/3 blended compost mix is used to promote root growth. The nutrient-rich compost feeds the plants and promotes soil microbes that aid in plant growth. Residents can reduce their cost by incorporating their compost, made in their own backyard using their compostable materials. They can add compost to their garden’s surface to help retain water, inhibit weed growth, and protect tender root systems from the sun. The eco-cycle of reusing your waste materials to create healthy plants and vegetables is easy to manage in your very own backyard compost bin and raised garden.