Back to Projects

Project: Building a Compost Pit

Composting | Beginner

Recycling scraps from your garden, yard and kitchen table is a cost-effective and organic way of helping your garden grow. The breakdown of leaves, grass clippings, fruit peels and other matter helps produce a nutrient-rich substance that can enrich your soil. While there are many ways to start composting, creating a composting pit is a simple way to get started on this process.

Step 1: Choose a location and form the border

Keep in mind that your compost pit will be visible. Think about whether or not you will want people to be able to see it in the front, back or sides of your house. Also make sure that it’s in an easily accessible location for you to maintain it.

The size of your compost pit should be determined by how much material you anticipate composting. We recommend starting off with a 4’x’4’ space, you can always expand this if needed. Use measuring tape and a hose or lawn paint to outline where you need to create the borders of the pit. Using a Garden Spade, make stabs along the hose for all four sides. Remove the hose and using the outline you made with the spade remove the top layer of sod by stabbing the ground with the blade of the spade into the area you already stabbed, pull back on the handle and push the blade horizontally across the surface of the pit as if you are plowing under the top layer of sod. As you push make sure you are cutting at the bottom of the grass blades and lift up the sod. This will be a repetitive process until you remove the entire top layer.

Step 2: Dig the Pit

You’ll want your compost pit to be at least 6 inches deep but we do not recommend digging more than a foot. Using a round point shovel, dig until you form a pit with your desired depth. Our standard Round Point Shovels feature our Comfort Step which helps your foot balance while putting pressure on the shovel with each dig. We also have a Floral Round Point shovel which is lighter weight and has a smaller blade but will still get the job done.

Step 3: Level the Bottom

Using a bow rake, smooth out the bottom of the pit with pushing and pulling motions to create an even level of ground.

Step 4: Mark the Border

For safety, you should create a marker along the edges of the pit to prevent anyone from mistaking it for even ground. Use something that will clearly indicate the pit such as patio stones around the border or brightly colored stakes in the ground at each corner.

Step 5: Fill the Pit

Fill your pit with the materials that you’ve been collecting for compost such as grass clippings, fruit and vegetable peels, leaves, etc. Just make sure you avoid using diseased plants or materials that are not good for composting.

Step 6: Turn the Compost

Make sure to turn your compost pile regularly so that all the materials are getting mixed and decomposed. Different types of forks or cultivators can help you with this part. We recommend a spading fork or cultivator to do this because of their tine shapes and space width.

Step 7: Spread the Pit

As your compost decomposes, use a manure fork to transfer it to different areas of your garden to help nourish the soil. A cultivator can also help spread the compost after it’s been transferred to the ground.

For this project, you’ll need: