What is Composting?
Composting is a natural process that turns organic materials into a rich soil amendment. Leaves, grass clippings and vegetable scraps are examples of items that can be composted. Depending on how much attention you devote to your compost pile, it can take from two weeks to a year to generate compost. Most households can have finished compost in about three months.
The Town of Cary supports composting as a method for waste diversion and a water wise enhancement to your yard. Residential yard waste that is collected weekly by the Town is turned into compost by Town contractors. Food and paper waste generated by food vendors at the Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival and the Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival is collected for composting. Each spring the Town hosts events such as our Compost Giveaway Workshops and Compost Bin Sale. Residents can learn more about composting throughout the year by visiting the Compost Education Center in Bond Park. The center includes a self-guided trail that demonstrates how to compost and shows different types of compost bins, the environmental and economic benefits, and how to use the finished product.
A Crash Course in Composting
A basic compost pile needs carbons (browns), nitrogen (greens), water and oxygen. Carbon is dry material such as wood chips, dried leaves, dried grass and shredded paper. Nitrogen is fresh moist material such as fresh grass cuttings and kitchen food scraps.
Types of Compost Bins
Compost bins come in all shapes and sizes from ready made store-bought models to home made designs. Compost piles can be left in the open air with chicken wire to prevent the wind from blowing items away, or enclosed with a lid, which may be neater in appearance and discourage animals from scavenging in the pile.
What Not to Put in a Compost Pile
Materials should NOT be composted if they promote disease, cause odors, attract pests or create other nuisances. Some examples are as follows:
- Meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, foods containing animal fats
- Human or pet waste
- Plants infected with or highly susceptible to disease, such as roses and peonies
- Charcoal ash, contains sulfur dioxide which can harm plants
Environmental Outreach Program Coordinator
Public Works Department