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Help the Fort Collins Environment by Composting | Backes Landscaping

compost pile in fort collins

How to Help the Fort Collins Environment by Composting


If you are looking for a way you can do something for the environment especially here in Fort Collins, you should look into home composting, especially if you have a garden or landscaping in your yard. Composting your household waste can keep several hundred pounds of trash out of the landfill every year. It also fertilizes the soil in your lawn and garden by creating a highly nutritious humus you can use instead of harmful chemical fertilizers.

Materials Suitable for Composting


You can compost the following materials: 

  • Kitchen scraps such as fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, coffee filters, used tea bags, bread, pasta, rice, nutshells, and eggshells. 
  • Grass clippings. 
  • Dry leaves. If possible, shred them before composting so they will break down faster. 
  • Flowers and weeds. 

Not all of your household waste can be composted. Never compost these materials: 

  • Meat, fat, or grease from animal products. These break down too slowly, smell awful while they decompose, and attract rodents. 
  • Dairy products, for the same reason as meat products. 
  • Cat or dog feces, because they can contain disease-carrying microorganisms. 

Twigs and stems, because they take too long to break down.

composting in fort collins

Starting Your Compost Pile


Composting works best in the heat, so it is best to start your compost pile in the summer. The first thing you need to do is decide on the size of the pile. If you are just composting your own garbage, you should go with a pile that is 3 feet by 3 feet, never smaller. If you are composting the household waste of a whole family, go with 5 feet by 5 feet. Next, find a location for the pile. Ideally, it should be on top of a small rise in the ground, so rainwater doesn’t collect in it. It should also be located away from wooden fences and sheds, or it will cause them to rot. Furthermore, it should be in the shade, or the sunlight will dry it out too much.

Once you have found a suitable location, cover it in a layer of sticks crisscrossed over each other, between 4 and 6 inches deep. This will allow air to circulate underneath the compost pile. As the pile decomposes, it heats up, drawing that air up through the pile and keeping it aerated, which will speed the decomposition up. If you are making a large compost pile, put a chicken wire or wood slat fence about 3 or 4 feet high around it so the pile doesn’t fall over.

vegetable for compost in fort collins



Cover the sticks in a layer of dry leaves about 6 inches thick. On top of that, add kitchen waste, lawn trimmings, and other green waste until you create another layer about 6 inches thick. Once this layer is complete, cover it with about 1 inch of soil, which will provide the microorganisms and nitrogen needed for decomposition. If necessary, add water to the pile until it is about as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Build up another layer of green waste on top of that. Keep adding layers in this pattern until you have a pile that is as tall as it is wide. Any larger, and the pile will be so heavy that it compacts itself, destroying the aeration. Once the pile is high enough, cover it with a layer of dry leaves and then cover that with a plastic sheet or lengths of wood. After about 90 to 120 days, the compost pile will be broken down enough to use in your lawn or garden.

Aeration is important to the composting process, so some people turn the pile over with a pitchfork once a week to keep it well aerated. However, the pile also depends on heat for aeration, and the heat that builds up in the pile also encourages the growth of the microorganisms that cause decomposition. When you turn the pile, you expose it all to the air, releasing all of the built-up heat, and this can slow down decomposition. It is best to just let the pile sit, instead.

compost heap in fort collins

The Takeaway


Composting is a relatively easy way to reduce your environmental footprint and make your yard and garden more beautiful. Just add a layer of compost about 2 inches deep to your soil in the fall to prepare it for the next growing season. You can also spread compost on top of the soil during the growing season if you need extra fertilizer.

Backes Landscaping is a full-service landscaper in Fort Collins offering landscape design services. We don’t clean gutters but understand the importance of how they can help to prevent erosion. Please give us a call for your landscaping needs at (970) 222-1730. Our professional landscapers install water features, retaining walls, xeriscaping, hardscaping, firepits, sprinklers, and offer tree service.

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