Composting

As COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases continue to rise in Wake County and beyond, Wake Forest's top priority remains the health and safety of our community and employees. We are committed to following recommendations and protocols established by local, state and federal agencies that are monitoring the situation and providing guidance on how to respond. 

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Raleigh Yard Waste Center closed in late March. In response, the Town of Wake Forest suspended yard waste collection until further notice. We hope this is a temporary measure and will decrease the spread of COVID-19.

OK - Now What?

Many yard trimmings can be quickly composted at home and re-used as mulch. If you aren't already backyard composting and would like to learn how, follow the directions below. 

How to Make Compost

  1. Start your compost with a 3-inch layer of coarse plant material, such as small twigs or chopped corn stalks. This will aid in aeration and drainage. On top of this, put a layer of plant and kitchen refuse, leaves, straw, weeds and waste from garden plants, husks, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, crushed egg shells, vegetable wastes, canning wastes, hair trimmings, etc. If you’d like to compost food waste or kitchen scraps, you should have an enclosed compost bin. Don’t put meat, dairy, fish, poultry, oily foods, cooked foods or pet wastes in your compost; they create odor and attract digging animals. If you see pests around your compost, learn more about prevention.

  2. Add a layer of nitrogen-rich material. This can be fresh manure if available, fresh grass clippings (not too thick a layer, as they will mat), fresh hay or green weeds. Nitrogenous materials are necessary for the microorganisms to make proteins.

  3. To inoculate the compost pile, about 1 inch of soil should be added for each 6-inch layer of plant waste to supply microorganisms for the composting process, unless enough soil is included in the manure or on the roots of weeds and expired vegetable plants. If the waste materials are free of soil for the most part, a sprinkling of soil, a compost starter, or a layer of old compost or good gardening soil added to each layer will introduce necessary microorganisms. Repeat the layers of plant material and nitrogenous material as many times as needed to use all the plant refuse available. Keep the top of the pile lower in the center to cause water to move into the pile rather than run off.

  4. Water the pile as often as necessary to keep the contents moist, but not soaking wet. Within a few days, the pile should heat up significantly, to about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will kill many weed seeds and harmful organisms and is a necessary stage in composting. If the pile fails to heat, it may lack nitrogen or moisture. The pile will also decrease in size after a few weeks if it’s composting properly. If you smell ammonia it may mean the pile is too tightly packed or it’s too wet (not enough air in the pile), so turn the heap, adding some coarser material, and start again.

  5. The pile should be forked over after about a month (two weeks if the material is shredded), putting the outside materials on the inside and vice versa to make sure everything gets broken down. Turn again five to six weeks later. The plant materials should decompose into good compost in about four to five months in warm weather but may take longer under cool or dry conditions. Composting may be completed in one to two months if the materials are shredded, kept moist and turned several times to provide good aeration. When compost is finished it will be black and crumbly, like good soil, with a pleasant, earthy smell.

Not Interested in Composting?

Mowing & Lawn Waste

Leave your grass clippings on your lawn! By leaving grass clippings on your lawn, you are returning much-needed moisture and nutrients to the soil. It will not contribute to excess thatch build up. If thatch is problem, you most likely are watering your lawn too much or utilizing too much fertilizer.

Additionally, by leaving grass clippings on your lawn, you will save time and energy spent bagging your grass.

For a healthy lawn, mow high. Adjust the mower height to leave your lawn 3-31/2 inches long. Cut often. Never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass height. Using a mulching lawn mower will also help break down the blades. Keep your blade sharp and dry. Alternate mowing direction will keep the grass from being pushed over in just one direction.

Limbs & Yard Waste

Friendly reminder that North Carolina has banned yard waste from landfills, so do not place yard waste in your trash cart.

If you're not interested in composting, consider researching low-maintenance lawn care ideas for the long-term. In the short-term, please hold on to your materials. We’ve seen an increased volume of waste from spring yard work but we encourage you to only perform yard work that is essential or of immediate need.

 

Composting
Assistant Public Works Director
919-435-9585