How to Compost
Composting is a great way to keep organic material out of landfills. It is also good environmental practice.
Compost bins, pails and accessories can be purchased by pre-order or walk-in during normal business hours. The Solid Waste District is open M-F 8:30 AM-4:30 PM and on the second Saturday of the month from 9:00 AM-1:00 PM. For composting equipment options, click here.
Grass clippings, tree and shrub trimmings, leaves. Rather than throwing them in the trash, yard waste and other organics can be easily composted. Consider creating a pile in your own backyard, or compost in a yard waste program. Many communities in Cuyahoga County offer yard waste collection for their residents. A community may have its own compost site, or yard waste is hauled to a private facility. Use this website’s location services or choose your community from the green ‘Select a City’ drop-down at the top of page and click ‘See Details.’
The District maintains a list of licensed compost facilities in Cuyahoga County. See the list.
Questions about backyard composting? Not sure why your pile isn't working? Contact the Solid Waste District at (216) 443-3749.
What is Compost?
Compost consists of organic materials derived from plants and some animal material that has been decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition (with oxygen). The process of composting is simple and is practiced by individuals in their homes, farmers on their land, and by industries and cities through contracts with composting businesses.
Compost is rich in nutrients. It is used in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer to add vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. In ecosystems, compost is useful for erosion control, land and stream reclamation and wetland construction.
Composting is a great way to keep organic material out of landfills. It's good environmental practice and an inexpensive way of adding nutrients back into the soil.
Applying compost to soil improves its texture, structure, aeration ability and water holding capacity. It adds up to improved soil fertility and root development. Trees, flowers or vegetables will grow healthier with less chemicals or fertilizers.
- Compost bin or outdoor area to compost
- Aeration tool such as a pitch fork or compost aerator
- Small pail to hold kitchen food scraps
- Organic material such as yard waste, food scraps and shredded paper
- Compost activator or accelerator including urea, manure, or bone meal to help the compost process start quickly and efficiently.
An effective compost pile must be large enough to hold the heat in the center while still allowing air to permeate the pile. When creating a pile, maintain the size from at least 3 x 3 x 3 to no larger than 5 x 5 x 5. Adding the same volume of materials to a purchased bin will optimize decomposition.
- Look for a level, well-drained area.
- Keep it accessible.
- Keep the pile or bin in a sunny spot to trap solar heat. If it's too hot, the compost may dry out and need water to continue decomposition.
- Shelter it near a building or landscaping that blocks wind to protect the compost pile from freezing winds.
- Build a pile over permeable soil or lawn.
- Find a spot that allows you to compost discretely, especially if you have neighboring yards close by.
Learn how you can use worms to make compost from your kitchen scraps by creating your own worm bin. View page.
Learn More About Backyard Composting
The Solid Waste District holds how-to-compost seminars for county residents and sells affordable compost bins. Seminars are held in spring and fall throughout Cuyahoga County. See a list of upcoming seminars.
Compost bins and other accessories are available for purchase at the Solid Waste District, 4750 East 131 Street in Garfield Heights. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM. Check or cash sales only. All sales are final. See a list of available compost bins and accessories.
The District publishes guidance documents about recycling and backyard composting:
- See the Guide to Backyard Composting (PDF).
- Request a hard copy or see the list of all District publications.
Tell Us How You're Doing!
Once a year, the Solid Waste District will survey interested residents of Cuyahoga County to see how they're doing with their composting efforts. Your city of residence will get a recycling credit that is reported to the Ohio EPA. If you are doing backyard composting and would like to add your name to the list of people who are surveyed send an email to be added to the list. The survey will be sent to you via email early in the year. Thank you in advance.
Residential Food Waste Composting Services
Residential food waste can be composted through services offered by Rust Belt Riders. The company offers drop off locations and a subscription service for weekly curbside pick up. Compost services are available for a small fee. See details.
Hot out of the barn! County residents can kick-start their compost pile with free horse manure from locations in Cuyahoga County. Bring your own container, pick-up truck and tools to load the manure yourself.
Berea -- Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds Horse Barns Enter from the Bagley Road entrance for Lot 5. Follow the road to drive all the way back to the horse barns, and look to your left for a dumpster marked "Ohio Bulk/Free Manure." Drive slowly - the speed limit around the horse area is 5 MPH for the protection of people and animals. Bring your own containers and shovel.
Cleveland -- Cleveland Police Mounted Unit Barn If you're closer to the Cleveland Police Mounted Unit barn (1150 East 38th St, Cleveland), you can ask them too. Bring your own containers and tools. Call the CPMU at (216) 623-5653.
Free Wood Chips
Occasionally, the Cleveland Metroparks has free wood chips available in two locations. Availability of the chips is not guaranteed, and visitors must bring their own shovels and containers to gather materials.
- North Chagrin Reservation: guests can pull into the "Whispering Woods" parking area.
- South Chagrin Reservation: look for the Horse Trailer Lot at the bottom of the sledding hill.