Recycle Yard Waste

In a Carolina Yard, grass clippings, leaves and yard trimmings are recycled rather than thrown away. By recycling yard debris, we gain free mulch and return valuable nutrients to the soil. Turn plant and kitchen scraps into rich soil for your indoor and outdoor plants. Consider organizing a community-wide program with your neighbors to help keep waste out of local landfills. If your community already has a composting program, be sure to follow the guidelines and contribute appropriate materials.

Carolina Yards Spotlight: Making Leaves Work For You

Watch as Extension Agent Terasa Lott discusses how to manage yard waste with WBTW's Chief Meteorologist Frank Johnson.

Composting FAQ

Will rodents get into my compost pile?

If your pile is managed properly, you shouldn’t have any problem with rodents getting into your compost pile. Meat, dairy, or food prepared with oil can attract rodents to your compost pile so don't include these materials in your compost pile. It’s helpful to dig a hole into the pile for kitchen scraps and then cover them to keep rodents away (HGIC 1600 Composting). 

Where should my compost bin be located in my yard?

Remember that composting takes months, so be sure you can get to your compost pile all year round. The site should be level, have good drainage, and be in a sunny or partly sunny spot. Ideally, the storage container you use for your compost pile should be over bare soil that has been turned to a depth of 6 inches or so to make access easy for worms and other organisms that do the work (HGIC 1600 Composting). 

Will it smell?

Compost piles will remain relatively odor free if they are turned, watered, and aerated regularly. If you detect an odor, try turning the pile to add oxygen. Also, add some relatively chunky materials such as twigs or wood chips to provide air spaces. If the compost smells of ammonia, you have too many green materials and need to add more brown materials (HGIC 1600 Composting). 

What kind of worms do I put in my compost pile?

Worm composting, or vermicomposting, uses the digestive power of red wigglers (Eisenia fetida). These are small red worms that live in the uppermost layer of organic matter on top of the soil. They are often chosen for worm composting because it is easy to replicate their preferred environment in a worm bin. They are also ideal because they have short life spans, reproduce quickly and tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions (HGIC 1607 Worm Composting). 

Recycle Yard Waste Action Checklist:

1. Use appropriate bags to contribute lawn clippings to local composting efforts. Place bags outside of ditches and away from storm drains.
2. Create and maintain a compost pile with kitchen scraps and yard waste. No animal products please.
3. Create worm compost by using the digestive power of worms to recycle kitchen scraps and organic material.
4. Recycle grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn. Mulching lawn mowers or mulching blades are not necessary.
5. Mow lawns to a height suggested by Clemson Extension for your specific lawn. Use higher recommended height when the lawn is under stress, such as during times of drought and very high temperature.

icon Did you know?

Grass clippings do not contribute to lawn thatch! Thatch is a dense, spongy collection of living and dead grass stems and roots lying between the soil surface and green grass leaves. Too much water and fertilizer produce excessive growth, which can lead to thatch. A shallow thatch layer up to 1/2 inch thick actually benefits the lawn by helping to retain moisture and stabilize soil temperature.

icon Tip:

A good rule of thumb is to remove no more than 1/3 of the lawn height at any one mowing. However, if you know the type of turfgrass growing in your yard, check the resources to see which mow height is recommended for the turfgrass species growing in your yard. Mowing, and especially mowing height, directly affects the health and quality of lawn.

Additional Resources:

HGIC 1600 Composting

HGIC 1607 Worm Composting

HGIC 1205 Mowing Lawns

HGIC 2360: Controlling Thatch in Lawns