Daily Choices

Compost Kitchen Waste + Yard Trim

Compost is the foundation of a healthy, sustainable lawn and garden.

There’s gold in your garbage! Black gold, that is. All of your non-meat food waste — from coffee grounds and eggshells to vegetable scraps, pasta and bread — and much of your lawn waste, can be turned into rich compost for your lawn and garden. It’s easy to do and saves money on fertilizers and other amendments.

Much of the 1,606 pounds of garbage each person creates every year (2013 EPA estimate) is organic and can be composted, saving space in landfills and keeping our waste water cleaner and easier to purify. All you need is a small, 3’x3’ corner of your yard.


To compost food waste, Montgomery County requires a rodent proof compost bin.  The County provides free compost bins for yard trim, but not one approved for food waste.


Get a free compost bin from Montgomery County. Find out where to go to pick up a free compost bin and whether they have them in stock. The County does not deliver compost bins.

To compost food waste, Montgomery County requires a rodent proof compost bin.  The County provided compost bins are for yard trim and leaves, but not one approved for food waste.

What about rodents getting into my compost bin?

Montgomery County requires a rodent proof bin for composting food waste.  Therefore, rodents shouldn’t be a problem.

If you are reading this from outside the County, here is our advice.

The most important step to keep vermin out of your compost is never to put meat or meat byproducts (oils, fat) in your compost pile. A properly blended compost pile will have few rodent problems.

If you do have a problem that bothers you, follow these simple steps. First, bury the bottom lip of the bin under the soil surface. Second, keep all lids and doors (if your bin has them) securely fastened and/or locked (some thieves like raccoons, can easily work latches). Third, when adding food scraps, make a depression in the middle of the pile and cover the scraps with other non-food material.

If at all possible, avoid using poisons as a means of control; instead, try predator urine, used kitty litter, hot pepper wax, or peppermint extract. As a last resort, purchase a few humane rodent traps that allow for release elsewhere.


What are some of the benefits of composting?

Compost is the single best way to improve the overall health of your soil, and thereby anything you want to grow in it. Working compost into your garden beds improves soil “tilth,” its overall structure and key to its water holding/drainage abilty. It reduces need for watering, fertilizers, and pesticides, which helps you save money at the garden center and keeps chemical inputs out of our streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

Composting also diverts organic material from landfills, helping reduce resources needed by trash truck and waste facilities. And, if you have a septic system, removing solids from your drain and avoiding the garbage disposal may help protect your system from damage.

(11) Comments

  1. Barry Jan 12, 2012

    We bought our red wiggler worms from a locally operated, Veteran owned provider: https://www.veterancompost.com/our-products/

    • Adriano Mar 27, 2012

      I have a qutseion for you. I have Rabbits and Chickens. Are their droppings better for the garden if put directly on the garden? or are they better if Composted first? Thank you for your help!

  2. Barry Jan 12, 2012

    What does not go to the worms during the summer months goes into our BioPod:

  3. raingarden Jan 14, 2012

    Use of an off the ground compost drum with stop animals from getting into fresh kitchen compost.

  4. dep Apr 04, 2012

    Adriano — Animal waste can contain helpful nutrients and also some stuff that you wouldn’t want to contaminate your good compost. There are resources for composting animal waste such as http://www.compostguy.com/composting/pet-waste-composting/ and http://cityfarmer.org/petwaste.html that encourage composters to design a separate system for animal or pet waste. Once the animal compost process runs its course the material can be mixed with top soil and added to ornamental plants located away from any food producing plants.

  5. compost bucket Aug 28, 2012

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I’m happy that you just shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Maggie Apr 01, 2014

    Hello. Does anyone know if there is a place in Montgomery County where I can drop off food waste for recycling. We don’t have time to do this ourself but I hate to throw all these food scraps away. I know there are companies that will pick up food waste from your home (Compost Cab) but they are too expensive. Thanks!

    • jjones Apr 09, 2014

      After some investigation, we did not find a commercial facility that accepts food scraps for composting in Montgomery County. Sorry!

  7. Muhitdin Nov 21, 2015

    When is the best time to put compose in the garden? I wanted to put it now, in the late fall.
    Where can I contact for delivery?
    Thank you,

    • Gwen Bausmith Nov 23, 2015

      Hi Muhitdin,

      Fall is definitely a good time to put compost in your garden and it’s a good idea to apply again in early spring, before plants start growing.

      If you wish to purchase compost, you may contact one of these LeafGro sellers. Some of them may deliver.

      If you would like a free yard trim compost bin from the County, you can find pickup locations on our website.

      I hope that information helps and best of luck prepping your garden for winter!

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