How to Make Compost Quickly: The Ultimate Easy Guide for Fast Result


Discover how to make compost quickly with our easy guide, transforming your kitchen scraps into rich, nutrient-dense soil that boosts your garden’s health effortlessly. Welcome to the ultimate journey towards creating life-giving compost in record time. If the long wait times of traditional composting methods have deterred you from starting, this guide promises a swift, straightforward pathway to enriching your garden.

Close-up of a compost pile with a variety of organic waste, including vegetable peels, fruit scraps, and eggshells, decomposing on rich soil.

By meticulously balancing green and brown materials and mastering the conditions for rapid decomposition, we unlock the secrets to fast-tracking your composting process. Dive into the essentials of quick composting with us, where we transform waste into garden treasure, fostering a lush, vibrant garden with every step.

Step-by-Step Guides on How to Make Compost Quickly

Understanding Composting Basics

A person holding a large container filled with kitchen scraps for composting, with a compost pile and compost bin in the background on a grassy area.

At its core, composting is a natural process of recycling organic matter. The essentials for a successful compost include green materials, brown materials, air, and water. Achieving the right balance among these four elements is critical. Greens, rich in nitrogen, add moisture and quicken the decomposition, while browns, high in carbon, provide the necessary bulk and allow air to circulate effectively through the pile. Proper aeration and moisture levels are the linchpins in hastening the composting process, transforming organic waste into nutrient-rich humus faster than usual.

Science in Composting

  • Microbial Dynamics: The compost pile is a bustling metropolis for microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes. These organisms are the primary drivers of decomposition, converting organic materials into stable humus. Their efficiency is directly influenced by the pile’s C:N ratio, with an optimal range being 25:1 to 30:1 for rapid composting. This ratio ensures a balanced diet for microbes, optimizing their metabolic rates.
  • Thermophilic Phase: Rapid composting is characterized by a thermophilic phase, where temperatures soar between 131°F (55°C) to 155°F (68°C), effectively killing pathogens and weed seeds. This phase is critical for breaking down tough plant materials, proteins, and fats, which are otherwise resistant to decomposition.
  • Aeration Techniques: Proper aeration strategies, such as turning the pile or using aerated static piles equipped with blowers, can significantly enhance oxygen supply, preventing anaerobic conditions. Aerobic conditions are crucial for sustaining high temperatures and promoting efficient microbial digestion.
  • Moisture and Porosity: Moisture is the lifeblood of the composting process, with an optimal content of 50-60% being ideal. At this moisture level, water fills the micro-pores in organic material, facilitating microbial access to nutrients while maintaining enough air space for gas exchange.

Key Parameters for Optimized Composting

ParameterDescriptionOptimal RangeImpact on Composting Process
C:N RatioBalance between carbon and nitrogen in the compost materials.25:1 to 30:1Ensures efficient microbial growth and rapid decomposition.
TemperatureHeat generated by microbial activity.131°F to 155°F (55°C to 68°C)Speeds up decomposition, kills pathogens and seeds.
Oxygen ConcentrationLevel of oxygen within the pile for aerobic decomposition.Above 5%Prevents anaerobic conditions, supports thermophilic microbes.
Moisture ContentAmount of water in the compost material.50-60%Sustains microbial life, aids in nutrient solubilization.

Optimizing composting involves a detailed understanding of the bio-chemical processes at play. By manipulating the C:N ratio, maintaining high temperatures through the thermophilic phase, ensuring adequate aeration, and controlling moisture levels, rapid and efficient composting can be achieved. This not only accelerates the production of high-quality compost but also enhances the overall sustainability of gardening practices, turning organic waste into an asset for soil health and plant growth.

Step-by-Step Guides on How to Make Compost Quickly

Step 1: Getting the Right Mix

An assortment of compost materials spread on a table, including dry leaves, straw, twigs, cardboard, vegetable scraps, and grass clippings, with a person in a striped shirt visible in the background.

The journey to rapid composting starts with the correct mix of greens and browns. Aim for a roughly equal ratio of both to maintain a balanced carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. Greens include sappy, fleshier materials such as grass clippings, vegetable peels, and coffee grounds, while browns are drier and coarser, like dried leaves, straw, and shredded cardboard. Identifying and sorting your materials into these categories lays the foundation for a speedy decomposition process.

Step 2: Cutting Materials Down to Size

A person in a yellow striped shirt and jeans holding wilted green plants in front of a compost heap, with a rustic stone wall and vegetation in the background.

Smaller pieces decompose quicker, thanks to their increased surface area that microbes can attack. Chop or shred your compost materials to expedite their breakdown. While specialized equipment like shredders can be handy, simple tools like pruning shears or a lawnmower suffice for most home composters. This step significantly reduces the time it takes for your compost pile to transform into usable soil amendment.

Step 3: Using Natural Activators

A large compost mound with layers of straw, soil, and manure, surrounded by lush green plants in a garden setting.

Accelerate your compost pile with natural activators instead of commercial products. The best activators include manure from herbivorous animals, such as chickens or horses, or even human urine, dubbed “liquid gold” for its nitrogen content. For those hesitant about using manure or urine, coffee grounds serve as an excellent alternative. These activators introduce a high nitrogen content to the pile, speeding up the microbial activity essential for breaking down organic matter.

Step 4: Optimize the Pile for Quick Decomposition

Partially visible person in a yellow striped shirt next to a compost heap covered with cardboard, indicating a method to retain moisture and heat for accelerated decomposition.

To accelerate composting, build your pile with alternating layers of greens and browns. This method ensures a balanced nutrient mix and improves air circulation. Each layer of greens should be followed by a layer of browns to prevent matting and to keep the pile aerated.

The size of your compost pile can significantly affect its ability to retain heat and decompose quickly. A pile that is at least 3 feet high and wide is ideal because it’s large enough to retain heat yet small enough to allow air to reach the center.

Step 5: Regular Monitoring and Adjustment

A person uncovers an opening beneath worn cardboard with a recycling symbol.

The heat within your compost pile is a good indicator of its activity. A compost thermometer can help you monitor the pile’s core temperature, which should ideally be between 135-160°F (57-71°C) to kill weed seeds and pathogens while fostering rapid decomposition.

If the temperature drops or the composting process slows, it might be time to turn the pile or adjust the moisture level. A pile that’s too dry won’t decompose efficiently, while one that’s too wet can become anaerobic. Turning the pile reintroduces oxygen and can help redistribute moisture.

Step 6: Harvesting Your Compost

Close-up of rich, moist soil with a blurred green background.

Mature compost will be dark, crumbly, and have an earthy smell. It generally takes anywhere from a few months to a year to fully mature, depending on the conditions and materials used. If you’re unsure, a simple test is to bag a small amount of compost and leave it sealed for a few days. If it smells sour or unpleasant when opened, it may need more time.

Finished compost can be mixed into garden beds to improve soil structure, moisture retention, and nutrient content. It can also be used as a top dressing for lawns or as a part of potting mixes.

Maintaining the Right Conditions

For compost to decompose rapidly, it must remain aerated and moist. Regularly turning your compost pile reintroduces oxygen, preventing anaerobic conditions that slow decomposition and cause unpleasant odors. Aim to turn the compost every one to two weeks, especially after adding new material. This action distributes air and moisture evenly, encouraging microbial activity and heating the pile, which is crucial for fast breakdown.

Moisture is another critical factor; your compost should feel like a wrung-out sponge—moist but not dripping. In dry conditions, sprinkle water over the pile during turning. Conversely, if the compost is too wet, mix in more browns to absorb excess moisture and improve air flow. This balance prevents the compost from becoming a compact, smelly mess.

Building Your Compost Heap

A person in a yellow striped shirt is assembling a wooden compost bin in a garden.

Creating a new compost heap begins with selecting the right spot—direct contact with the soil is ideal to allow worms and microorganisms easy access. For structure, repurpose pallets into a bin by securing them together. This not only recycles materials but also provides ample airflow, a key component for quick composting.

Start your pile with a layer of twiggy, brown materials to enhance drainage and aeration at the base. Then, add greens and browns in alternating layers, maintaining the balance for optimal decomposition. Remember, diversity in your compost ingredients enriches the final product, making it a more complete soil amendment.

Essential Components for Building an Effective Compost Heap

ComponentDescriptionTips for Optimization
LocationPartially shaded, well-drained areaFacilitates accessibility and proper environmental conditions
FoundationDirectly on soil, possibly with wire meshEnhances organism access while deterring rodents
StructureRepurposed pallets or binsEnsures proper aeration and accessibility
LayeringAlternating greens and brownsBalances nitrogen and carbon for optimal decomposition
Microbial BoostersSoil, compost, or inoculantsIntroduces beneficial microbes to accelerate decomposition
Aeration StrategiesTwiggy base, PVC pipesPromotes oxygen flow essential for aerobic composting
Moisture ManagementWater sprinkling, breathable coverMaintains ideal moisture levels for microbial activity

Practical Tips and Troubleshooting

Even with careful management, compost piles can encounter issues. If your compost is not decomposing quickly, check for the following:

1. Balancing Greens and Browns: Achieving the right balance between nitrogen-rich greens and carbon-rich browns is crucial for a healthy compost pile. An imbalance can lead to slow decomposition or odor problems.

  • Tip: Aim for a ratio of about 3 parts browns to 1 part greens by volume. If the pile is too wet and smelly, add more browns. If it’s too dry, add more greens.

2. Managing Moisture Levels: Compost piles need moisture to support the microbial activity essential for decomposition, but too much or too little can hinder the process.

  • Tip: The compost should feel like a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, add water or wet greens. If too wet, turn it more frequently and add dry browns to absorb excess moisture.

3. Ensuring Adequate Aeration: Oxygen is vital for aerobic decomposition. Lack of aeration can lead to anaerobic conditions, causing odors and slowing down the composting process.

  • Tip: Turn your pile regularly to introduce air. If turning is difficult, consider adding bulky items like branches or aerating tools to create air passages.

4. Accelerating Decomposition: Sometimes compost piles can take longer to break down than expected, due to various factors including temperature, moisture, and material size.

  • Tip: Chop or shred larger items to increase surface area for microbes. Also, ensure the pile is large enough to retain heat, aiming for at least 3x3x3 feet.

5. Dealing with Pests and Rodents: Compost piles can attract unwanted visitors like rodents and insects, particularly if kitchen scraps are exposed.

  • Tip: Bury kitchen scraps deep within the pile and consider a compost bin with a lid or mesh sides to deter pests. Avoid composting meat, dairy, and oils, which are more likely to attract pests.

6. Eliminating Bad Odors: A healthy compost pile should have an earthy smell. Bad odors usually indicate anaerobic decomposition due to excess moisture or lack of oxygen.

  • Tip: Turn the pile to introduce oxygen and add more browns to soak up excess moisture. Ensure the pile is not overly compacted.

7. Jumpstarting a Stalled Pile: If your compost pile isn’t heating up, it may have stalled due to an imbalance in materials, moisture, or lack of microbes.

  • Tip: Add a shovelful of finished compost or garden soil as a microbial inoculant. Check and adjust moisture and C:N ratio as needed.

8. Composting in Cold Weather: Composting slows down in colder temperatures as microbial activity decreases.

  • Tip: Insulate your pile with a thick layer of browns like straw or leaves to retain heat. Consider a compost tumbler or bin to keep the process going through winter.

Remember, composting is a natural process, and slight adjustments can often rectify issues. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks; each challenge is an opportunity to learn and improve your composting practice.


In conclusion, making compost quickly is a straightforward and rewarding process that enhances your garden’s health and sustainability. By maintaining the right balance of green and brown materials, ensuring adequate moisture, and regularly turning the pile, you can accelerate the composting process and produce rich, nutrient-dense compost in just a few months. This simple guide empowers gardeners of all levels to efficiently recycle organic waste into valuable soil amendment, fostering a greener, more vibrant garden.


  1. Can I really make compost fast? How quick is it?
    Yes, you can significantly speed up the composting process by following specific steps such as balancing your green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials, maintaining proper moisture, and turning the pile regularly to introduce oxygen. Depending on these factors, compost can be ready in as little as 2-3 months.
  2. What are the best materials to add to my compost to make it decompose faster?
    To accelerate decomposition, add a balanced mix of green materials like vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings for nitrogen, and brown materials such as dry leaves, straw, and shredded paper for carbon. Adding natural activators like well-rotted manure can also speed up the process.
  3. How often should I turn my compost pile?
    Turning your compost pile every 1-2 weeks helps introduce oxygen, which is crucial for rapid decomposition. If you notice your compost pile is not heating up, turning it more frequently can help reinvigorate the process.
  4. Is it possible to make compost in winter?
    Yes, you can make compost in winter, but the process will slow down as temperatures drop. To help maintain activity, insulate your compost pile with a thick layer of browns, like straw or leaves, and consider using a compost bin to retain heat better.
  5. How wet should my compost pile be?
    Your compost pile should have the moisture content of a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, microbial activity will slow down, delaying decomposition. If it’s too wet, the pile can become anaerobic and smelly. Adjust moisture levels by adding greens to dry piles or browns to wet piles.
  6. Can I add weeds to my compost?
    Yes, but with caution. Weeds can be added to your compost pile if they haven’t gone to seed. Hot composting, where the pile reaches between 135-160°F, can kill weed seeds and pathogens, making it safer to use the resulting compost in your garden.
  7. What should I do if my compost pile starts to smell?
    A smelly compost pile usually indicates an imbalance, often too much moisture and not enough air. Turn the pile to introduce oxygen and add brown materials to absorb excess moisture. This should eliminate odors and help restore balance to your compost.
  8. How do I know when my compost is ready to use?
    Finished compost will be dark, crumbly, and have an earthy smell, without any recognizable food or yard waste. It typically takes a few months to reach this stage if maintained properly. If you’re unsure, let a small amount sit for a few days; if it doesn’t heat up, it’s ready to use.

And there you have it—a straightforward path to speedy composting. Embrace these tips, and soon you’ll transform your garden with your own nutrient-rich compost, celebrating the cycle of growth and sustainability. Happy composting!

Benjamin Brooks
Benjamin Brooks
Forestry Author

Greetings! I'm Benjamin Brooks, and my journey over the past 15 years has revolved around the fascinating realms of content creation, expertise in snow clearing, and the intricate world of lumberjacking and landscaping. What began as a simple curiosity about the natural world and heavy machinery has evolved into a passionate profession where my love for crafting words intertwines seamlessly with my lumberjacking and garden skills.


it is useful because the content you write is very clear indeed

Daniel Adams
OMEGA Romeo Eleison
April 15, 2024 10:57 am

Thanks I'll try this this year while composting. I have learned something new.

Daniel Adams
March 11, 2024 9:18 am

That wash good information that I got. Thank you very much .

Daniel Adams
dennis thurston
February 27, 2024 8:26 pm

Excellent information the content did not disappoint. I forwarded it on Facebook to my gardening friends. Thanks for your thorough article ✌️🍃🌱

Daniel Adams
Shawneen Hammer
February 22, 2024 3:43 pm

How do you compost in the desert? I don't see many worms but my compost gives me 1,000s of Beatles that I believe are eating my tree roots.

Daniel Adams
February 22, 2024 1:55 pm

Excellent informative material. Very good source for those practical starters as well as literature. I guess only point to note is that the parameters like temp, moisture, C:N may slightly vary in harsh tropical climate. If located in rainy zone perhaps need to cover prevent excess rain water filtering in. Thank u

Daniel Adams
February 19, 2024 3:48 am

Leave your comment

Please enter your name.
Please provide a valid email address.
Please type your comment.