We all know how important it is to recycle things like plastic, paper, and glass. But it is also important to recycle organic materials. Creating a compost heap will help you create less waste and help you to renew the nutrients in your soil, allowing you to have a better garden and go green.

Keep reading for 5 easy steps to creating your own compost heap. All it takes is a little bit of time, and soon you’ll be turning your grass clippings and other plant materials into rich nutrients for your garden.

  • 1. Create your base layer.

Your compost heap will need a good base layer in order for it to turn into compost properly. Your base layer should be made up of coarse, dry, brown stuff, such as straw, leaves, grass cuttings, etc. Keep in mind these should be brown, so you don’t want to use freshly cut grass or green leaves in your base layer. Make sure this bottom layer is several inches thick.

  • 2. Add green.

Now is the time to add some green to your pile. Green items can include garden plants or weeds (though you should avoid weeds that spread easily, like thistles or dandelions), fresh grass clippings, pine needles, flowers, and so on.

The key to a really good compost pile is an equal balance between “greens” and “browns.” If your pile is starting to look too green, add some brown to even it out, and vice versa.

  • 3. Add a thin layer of soil.

Adding just a little bit of soil to your green and brown mix will help everything to mix together and turn into actual compost. When you add soil, make sure that you don’t add too much. You should also avoid using soil with rocks in it, as this will make your compost harder to use.

  • 4. Repeat steps 1-3.

You want your finished compost heap to be about 3 feet high, so that there is enough there for it to turn into compost. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough materials to get to 3 feet right at first. As you go through your gardening routine each week, you can add to the pile.

  • 5. Maintain your compost heap.

In order for your pile of greens, browns, and soil to turn into actual compost, you need to keep the pile moist, but not too wet. Every few weeks you should turn the pile, which you can do using a large pitchfork or shovel. This will help the stuff on the outside to decompose as well.

Once the materials in your compost heap have decomposed, you will be able to tell that your compost is ready to use when you can see earthworms crawling around and the pile has turned into a black, crumbly material that smells sweet. At this point, you can shovel out the compost and use it in your garden.

If you have leftover bits in your compost heap that haven’t quite decomposed yet, just leave them there and add to your pile; soon you’ll have some more compost to use!