If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly way to condition the soil in your yard or garden, then you should consider creating a compost pile. Mulching with compost moderates soil temperature, retains moisture, provides nutrients for plants and helps your greenery become healthier and better-prepared to ward of attacks from diseases and pests.
To create a compost pile, you’ll need a few tools to get started. They include:
- a compost turner or pitchfork
- a garden hose
- a compost thermometer
- pruning shears
- a covered container for collecting food scraps from your kitchen
You’ll also need to determine where you want to put your pile and whether or not your local government has any ordinances about pile placement. Once you have this information, find a place in your yard or garden that:
- has good drainage
- is on level ground, away from trees and protected from high winds
- gets at least half a day’s worth of sun
- can be easily accessed and is away from areas that you (or any pets you have) frequent
You may opt instead to purchase a compost bin. These containers take the messiness out of composting and make compost-turning easier. They also increase the heat inside the actual pile which in turn speeds the decomposition process. The only drawback is the expense that can be associated with them.
The next thing to do is to gather materials for the compost pile itself. You’ll need a combination of green materials to provide nitrogen and brown ones to provide carbon to the microorganisms that do the job of decomposing. Greens include:
- grass clippings
- pulled weeds
- green table waste, such as fruit and vegetable peelings
- coffee grounds and tea bags
- dry grass clippings
- plants that have wilted and gone brown
- pine needles
- egg shells
Start the pile itself on bare ground to improve air circulation and to allow microbes access to the pile. Then put down a 6-inch layer of a combination of greens and browns.
The next layer should consist of fertilizer, which can be in the form of animal–but not dog or cat–manure.The final layer should consist of non-chemically treated garden soil to introduce more microbes into the pile. Water each layer as you go, then monitor the temperature of the pile itself, which should be no less than 90°F and no more than 135°F. You’ll also need to turn the pile every 5 to 6 weeks. The pile itself should be ready in 3 to 4 months–just in time for the Texas fall planting season!
At South Austin Irrigation, we know that keeping your yard, lawn or garden healthy isn’t just a matter of keeping it well-watered. Soil maintenance is important, too. But when your irrigation equipment needs repair, we provide the advice and service your need to make your landscape the best that it can be. When you need irrigation experts, contact us!
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