Composting 101

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The following is a basic guide to composting to help you get started. There are many additional helpful resources online, including guides to composting by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS) and the Environmental Protection Agency

How to Compost

Step 1: Find a location for a composter (sunny spots are preferred).

Step 2: Add 2 parts brown for Carbon:

  • Dry leaves
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towels
  • Hay
  • Shredded paper
  • 100% cotton fabric

Step 3: Add 1 part green for Nitrogen

  • Vegetable trimmings
  • Green leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Tea Bags
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Weeds

Step 4: Add air (Tumble or turn every week to increase oxygen.)

Step 5: Add water (Compost should be moist.)

What to Compost

Carbon Materials (“Browns”)

Someone adds leaves to a backyard composter. Photo by Metro:
"Browns" are items like dry leaves shown in the picture above, as well as newspaper, paper towels, hay, shredded paper, and 100% cotton fabric. (Photo used courtesy of Metro.)

Nitrogen Materials (“Greens”)

Someone adds vegetable scraps to her composter. Photo from
"Greens" like these vegetable trimmings should be added. Greens also include green leaves, grass clippings tea bags, coffee grounds, and weeds.

Do Not Include

Do not include the following items in your composter:

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Animal manure
  • Diseased plants
  • Oils
  • Plastic

Can I Compost It? 

Not sure about an item? Check the “Can I Compost It?” guide from IFAS.

$50 Rebates for City of Melbourne Residents 

For a limited time, the city is offering customers who live within the city limits of Melbourne up to a $50 rebate for purchasing and installing a composter that has at least a 30-gallon capacity. Read more about the Composter Rebate Program or contact the Environmental Community Outreach (ECO) Division at (321) 608-5080 or

A homeowner checks her backyard composter.

Backyard composter