There are many composters which are both highly functional and lend beauty to the home yardscape. A brightly-decorated compost tumbler or barrel, or an all-cedar three-bin setup strategically placed in the home yardscape, can provide valuable compost for your plants and bring beauty to your home.
In my backyard, and many yards like it, composting is going just fine within a humble heap: A compost pile. Making compost in piles isn’t for every yard; some yards are not big enough for a pile while others may be restricted by property association policies. But if your yard is a possible site for a compost heap, there are three things you shouldn’t overlook: ease of dumping, closeness to water and proximity to where the compost will finally be used.
The compost pile has to be easy to access. We locate our pile near the back of our lot, where it’s close enough to dump shredded leaves without going too far from the yard. This helps keep the time down for leaf collection and saves time and effort in going back and forth.
The compost heap also has to be able to heat up to promote decomposition; but, that heat has to be in a moist environment. Too much sunlight can dry out the pile, especially in the summer when air temperatures are already high. We like to keep the compost pile on an east-facing edge of the woods, where it gets just a bit of morning sun.
Keeping the pile in the shade helps reduce the volume of water needed to moisten the pile. While you can reduce the amount of water needed by locating the pile in a shaded spot, the microorganisms that transform organic wastes in compost will need a moist environment. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your pile close enough to an outdoor faucet so you can hose down the pile when it needs more moisture.
The compost pile should also be located nearby the places where the compost will be put to final use. This helps minimize the time and hassle of transporting the final product. There’s also something very satisfying about scooping a shovelful of finished compost out of the pile and walking just a few steps to deposit it into a nearby garden or bed.