Can I Compost This? Guide to Compost Do’s and Dont’s

Whether you are a keen composter or a beginner who is excited to get started, there are few rules to follow when it comes to composting. To ensure that your compost heap is more than a pile of rotting household rubbish and is actually viable for your garden, you need to be aware of what you can and can’t add to the pile. Adding the non-compostable items can lead to your compost pile becoming smelly, attracting pests, and unable to break down.















The basics of composting

Composting is the process of natural decomposition in which organic materials break down to become nutrient mulch which is great for your garden. For your compost to be a success, you need a combination of carbon-rich materials, known as ‘browns’, and nitrogen-rich materials, which are called ‘greens’. Your compost also requires oxygen and water, which are infused by turning your heap weekly and by adding moisture.










 Brown Material

 Green Material

 Dry leaves  Vegetable scraps
 Plant stalks  Grass clippings
 Shredded paper & cardboard  Coffee grinds








When setting up your compost bin, ensure that you have 2 parts brown material to 1 part green.

What can and can’t be composted?

Not all household waste can be composted. Follow the table below to understand what can and can’t be composted. As a general rule, if it looks like it may make your compost heap smell, attract pests or contain materials which don’t naturally break down, then don’t add it to your compost. 

 Can be composted

 Can’t be composted

 Vegetable scraps  Fish, meat & dairy products
 Coffee grounds, filters & teabags (no staples)  Seafood 
 Crushed eggshells  Diseased & pest-ridden plants 
 Grass clippings, leaves and other green waste  Pet faeces & kitty litter
 Breadcrumbs, pasta & rice (in small amounts)  Fat, oil & grease
 Newspaper & shredded paper  Weeds which have gone to seed
 Pet fur  Plastic, labels and glossy or coated paper
 Lint from the dryer  Charcoal 
 Some specialised mail/package bags  Garbage bags


Composting heap troubleshooting

Having troubles with your compost? If your compost isn’t breaking down or is starting to smell funny, you may have issues in your brown to green balance, not enough oxygen or too much water. Use our table below to troubleshoot some common problems with composting.

Pile not heating up

Possible issue: needs more nitrogen
Solution: add some more green material

Smells like rotten eggs, vinegar, sulphur

Possible issue: not enough oxygen, too compacted and/or too much moisture
Solution: turn pile to aerate and add more dry materials to soak up moisture

Attracting pests and rodents

Possible issue: may contain non-compostable material
Solution: remove any items which cannot be composted, especially animal bones, meat and products

Smells like ammonia or fishy

Possible issue: needs more carbon
Solution: add some more brown material


Don’t see your compost problem included above? If you need assistance with composting or anything gardening related, then get in touch with the friendly team at Jim’s Mowing! We are experts in all things composting and gardens so we can provide you with some helpful advice, not to mention a wide range of professional gardening services.

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