BackyardComposting

Download your free Composting Guide from Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Composting Chart

The following chart lists materials that are commonly used for composting at home.  It also includes comments about what to compost and what to avoid composting:

Material Can I use it? Green or Brown? Comments
Algae Yes Green Good nutrient source.
Animal Manure (horse, cow, pig, sheep, goat, chicken, rabbit) Yes Green Great source of nitrogen. Mix with carbon rich materials so it breaks down better. Make sure you never use manure from carnivores or omnivores.
Ashes from coal or charcoal No n/a Contains materials harmful to plants and soil.
Ashes from untreated wood Caution Neutral Small amounts. Potentially makes the alkaline, suppresses composting process.
Beverages, kitchen rinse water Yes Neutral Can be useful for adding moisture to the heap. Don’t over-moisten
Bird droppings Caution Green May contain weed seeds or disease organisms.
Cardboard Yes Brown Tear into small pieces before applying. Easier to tear when wet.
Cat droppings or cat litter No n/a Never use manure from carnivores or omnivores.
Citrus Peel Yes Green Chopping it up will speed up the process. Caution if worm composting, as worms only tolerate small amounts
Coffee grinds and filters Yes Green Worms love coffee grinds and coffee filters.
Compost activator No need to, but “Yes” Neutral You don’t need it, but it is not harmful.
Cooking oil No n/a Cooking oils inhibit the composting process because they displace air and water. Could also attract pests.
Cornstalks, corn cobs Yes Brown Should be shredded and mixed with nitrogen rich materials.
Cotton wool Yes Brown Moistening may help
Dairy products No n/a Avoid.
Deadly Nightshade Yes Green Toxins are broken down during the composting process
Diseased plants Caution Green If your heap is hot hot enough, it might not kill the organisms. Let it cure several months, and never use resulting compost near the type of plant that was diseased.
Disposable nappies No n/a Even if biodegradeable they are a health risk in a compost bin.
Dog droppings No n/a Never use manure from carnivores or omnivores.
Dryer lint Yes Brown Moistening helps.
Egg Boxes Yes Brown Cardboard egg boxes are compostable and because their shape they help to keep air in the bin
Eggshells Yes Neutral Crush the shells.
Fish scraps No n/a Can attract pest and cause a bad odours.
Fruit and fruit peels Yes Green Bury in compost pile.
Hair Yes Green Scatter so it isn’t in clumps.
Junk Mail Yes Brown Avoid the excessively coloured, glossy junk and rip the plastic window off the envelopes
Lake Moss Yes Green Good nutrient source.
Leaves Yes Brown Shredded leaves break down faster.
Lime No n/a Can kill composting action. Avoid. If compost is too acidic, adjust finished compost.
Meat, fat, grease, oils, bones No n/a Avoid.
Nettles Yes Green Young nettles are a good compost activator. Avoid the roots as they may spread.
Newspaper Yes Brown Break down easier when shredded. Don’t add too much newspaper. Avoid coloured pages
Pine needles and cones Yes Brown Small amounts only. Decompose slowly. Acidic
Rhubarb Leaves Yes Green Although poisonous to eat, they do not poison compost or plants fed with that compost.
Sawdust and wood shavings (untreated wood) Yes Brown Must be offset with nitrogen-rich materials. Small amounts. Never use treated wood or timber.
Seaweed Yes Green Good nutrient source.
Sod Caution Green Only if the pile is hot enough to prevent grass continue growing
Vegetables and veggie peels Yes Green Bury in compost pile.
Weeds Caution Green Dry out first and add later.