Yellow flowers in pot on window ledge

A compost bin turns organic waste, including vegetable scraps and garden waste, into excellent quality compost. This material acts as a natural fertiliser to give the garden a boost. Confined in the compost bin under controlled conditions, the material breakdown accelerates. Micro-organisms, earthworms and insects in the soil assist in breaking down the organic waste in the compost bin.

The benefits of compost are:

  • improves drainage
  • assists plant growth and disease resistance
  • absorbs and filters runoff
  • reduces unwanted insects

The best types of compost system can be purpose-designed plastic containers or metal bins, because they reduce the potential for harbouring rodents. 

Choose a position that is:

  • well-drained and warm
  • close to a water source.

Layer your compost bin

  • Your compost bin needs layers of brown material that is high in carbon.
  • The first layer in your bin should be dry material. For example, dry leaves, newspaper, dry garden clippings, twigs up to 15cm.
  • The second layer is finished compost.
  • Add a layer of garden clippings and food scraps. One bucket of food scraps to two buckets of clippings.
  • Add a layer of dry leaves and wet paper. Then add some water.
  • Add another layer of garden clippings and food scraps. 
  • The next layer is more dry leaves and wet paper. Add more water.
  • Add some soil on top of the previous layer.
  • The next layer is more food scraps. 
  • Finally, add more soil on top, then cover.
  • Your compost is ready when no food scraps are visible and the compost smells fresh and earthy, usually in 8-12 weeks. Turning the compost once a week speeds up the process.

    Compost bin diagram

Worm food

Compostable material includes food and vegetable scraps, hair, lawn and garden clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, vacuum cleaner dust, straw and newspaper. 

Meat, bones and dairy products, metals, plastics and glass, magazines, large branches, bread and cakes should not be added to your compost bin. Also exclude animal manures (especially cat or dog droppings), weeds that have seeds, diseased plants and sawdust from treated timber.

Composting tips

  • A compost heap will mature quickly if it is one cubic meter or more in size. 
  • Moisten your compost by hosing it, or even with coffee or tea leftovers.
  • Using a garden fork, make sure your compost heap has sufficient air by fluffing it every four to six days. 
  • Cover the compost so it does not become waterlogged in the rainy weather. 
  • Adding soil or compost adds micro-organisms to your bin.
  • These micro-organisms break down the organic matter into compost.
  • Once the bin is full, do not add any more food scraps.

Problem solving

1. Smelly compost caused by too much moisture, not enough air, too much/not enough food, or ‘other’ materials.

  • Solution: stir in dry leaves, mulch or soil, turn the compost to get more air, add garden lime or dolomite, mix food with newspaper.

2. Ants, cockroaches, flies, mice, rats.

  • Solution: ensure food is covered by mulch, add garden lime and turn the compost, do not add meat to the compost.

3. Too dry.

  • Solution: add water.

We offer ratepayers free mulch from various waste facilities across the region. Read more about free mulch here.


Related links

Gardening tutorial videos

WaterWise gardening

Worm farming

Knowing your garden and lawn