Step by step guide to composting
18th June 2011
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A step-by-step guide to composting

1. Find the right site. Site your bin or heap on bare soil. If space is limited, put your bin on concrete, tarmac or patio slabs; but make sure there’s a layer of soil or existing compost on the bottom so garden creatures can colonise.

2. Add the right ingredients. Fill your kitchen caddy with the right ingredients such as tea bags, taking care not to compost cooked food, meat or fish. See our list of the right ingredients for composting below.

3. Fill it up. Empty your kitchen caddy and your garden waste into your bin or heap. A 50/50 mix of greens and browns is the perfect recipe for good compost.

4. After 9-12 months. The ingredients you have put in your bin or heap should have turned into a dark brown, earthy smelling material at the bottom of the bin, which can be dug out, with the newer material being left. Don’t worry if your compost looks a little lumpy with twigs and bits of eggshells – this is perfectly normal. Simply sift out any bits and return them to your bin or heap.

5. Ready! Once your compost resembles thick, moist soil and smells very earthy, it’s ready to use.

6. Collect the compost. Instructions will be delivered with your bin. Simply lift the bin slightly or open the hatch at the bottom and scoop out the fresh compost with a garden fork or spade. If you have built your own, simply rake out the ready compost.

7. Use it. And watch your garden bloom. Compost can be used for all types of planting needs – vegetable plants for allotments; general potting (if mixed with something like ordinary soil); or flowerbeds and enriching new borders by mixing in existing soil.


The right ingredients for composting


  • Tea bags
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vegetable peelings
  • Fruit scraps
  • Salad leaves
  • Grass cuttings
  • Old flowers
  • Dead plants


  • Dried leaves, twigs
  • Toilet/kitchen roll tubes
  • Scrunched up paper
  • Vacuum bag contents
  • Wood chippings, straw
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Cereal/egg boxes

Get started

To find out more about how to build yourself a compost heap, or to buy a bin, starting from only £14.00 visit You’ll also find lots of other helpful tips and information there too or call the Surrey Waste Partnership on (0844) 571 4444.

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