Small Garden Composting Ideas

Composting is a great way to reduce green waste and make your home more eco-friendly.

Even if you have limited garden space, you can still create your own compost from kitchen scraps and garden waste that would normally go into landfill.

Here are some handy tips for composting in a small garden.

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small compost bin

Why compost?

When food and garden scraps are sent to landfill they create harmful methane gas as they break down.

By composting your kitchen and garden waste you can prevent methane production while also creating beneficial compost for your garden.

Compost helps to improve sandy and clay soil, while also enriching the garden with nutrients and trace minerals.

Even in a small apartment you can use a benchtop compost bin to create nutritious compost for your indoor plants.

How composting works

Composting requires oxygen, moisture, heat, plant materials and microbes.

Bacteria and other microbes consume the garden waste, breaking it down to form a highly nutritious, crumbly compost that your plants will love.

It can take between one month to a year or more for the compost to fully break down depending on the size of the garden scraps you add to the compost bin. [1]

It’s a good idea to start with veggie peelings and dry leaves and you’ll have beautiful rich compost in only a few months.

compost in a small garden

What can be composted?

Green waste

  • Lawn clippings
  • Green leaves
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Teabags

Dry waste

  • Straw
  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded paper
  • Wood chips
  • Sawdust
  • Hair
  • Dryer lint
  • Vacuum cleaner dust

Avoid adding dairy, meat scraps and dog and cat faeces to your compost bin.

The ideal ratio is two parts green waste to one part dry waste. This will enable the compost to break down quickly without becoming smelly.

urban garden compost bin

Best compost bins for small spaces

If you have a small backyard, the last thing you want is an ugly, smelly compost heap taking up valuable garden space.

Here are a few different types of compost bins that are ideal for small backyards, courtyards and even apartments.

Indoor compost bins

The Bokashi bin is an indoor compost bin that uses beneficial bacteria to break down kitchen waste in two to four weeks.

It’s odorless and will easily fit underneath the kitchen sink or on your kitchen benchtop.

The Bokashi system produces a nutrient-rich liquid that you can dilute and use to water your houseplants or veggie garden.

Compost Bags

Heavy duty compost bags are a good option for patios, balconies or small gardens.

Just load your garden and kitchen waste in the top and there’s a flap at the bottom to access the broken down compost.

The bags can be easily folded up when you’re not using them.

Tumbling compost bins

These types of compost bins make it easy to aerate your compost and they don’t take up too much space.

The Envirocycle is an attractive, compact compost bin that is ideal for balconies or small gardens.

The drum rotates on top of the base to create solid compost and you can also collect the compost tea to use as a powerful liquid fertilizer.

If you have a bit more garden space, this compost tumbler is a great option.

It makes turning the compost very easy and efficient. Just close the door and turn it 5 to 6 times every few days.

Worm Farms

Worm farms are another great option for creating compost in small gardens.

Just put your fruit and vegetable scraps in the top and the worms will break them down to create a nutritious liquid compost for your plants.

So there are some easy ways to compost when you have a small garden.

No matter which system you choose, you’ll no longer have to feel guilty about scraping your kitchen scraps into the trash.

Hopefully this has inspired you to make your own compost, even if you have limited space in your garden.


Have you tried any of these compact composting methods? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Stephanie S

    My husband and I have only done composting once. We actually loved the end results, but we were so new at it. We talked about maybe trying again next year. I love some of the ideas you mentioned in your post. I am very interested in trying the tumbling compost bin. I’ll be saving your post! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Nkem

    When I loved in Korea, they composted a lot, which was new to me. In fact, you could get a fine for not composting. Moving to the UAE, they don’t do that, and I wonder why. Perhaps less greenery here – but that’s no execuse as per what you mentioned about the landfills!

  3. Leesa

    I enjoyed reading about composting. I have not tried this before because I don’t do a lot of gardening. However, now that I see how it works, I might give it a try. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Melanie williams

    LOVE this so much. anything that seeks to promote using up waste is a big win from me for sure x

  5. Britt K

    We have a compost bin in the back yard and I love the fact that we can compost our waste to create great dirt for our own backyard garden. Why waste all the valuable nutrients that can come from that composted dirt? It really helps to encourage our garden to grow the best that it can (and who doesn’t want to boost their garden).

  6. Trish Veltman

    Great post – I hate chucking anything away. we inherited a plastic compost bin with our house, but it has no door to access the compost. I will have to buy one of these products here to make things easier

  7. Smita

    These are some great options for composting! The compost bags sound the most space-efficient and easy to use – will give them a try soon!

  8. Morgan

    These were some interesting ideas! Our compost is picked up and taken from the road but I did have a giant compost bin as a kid! It sat in the corner of our yard and was big and kind of smelly. I love the idea of the tumbling ones. Things have really come a long way.

  9. Kat

    This is a wonderful and useful write-up. I am hoping that my next place will have some green space, so this will be a much needed article to come back to. I remember starting to compost as a child with my mother – she still has the same compost we set up back then and still uses it.

  10. Lyosha

    I wish I had a garden to keep up with your ideas! Very-very cute, I love it all!

  11. I didn’t know much about composting before reading this. What surprises me is how easy it is! For whatever reason I always thought it was a lot more complicated than this, and smelly. Now I’m interested in starting a compost bin myself.

  12. Kim Berniard

    Can a five gallon plastic bucket with a top be used to compost?

    1. Kelly Taylor

      Hi Kim, yes you can use a plastic bucket with a lid for your compost. Just open the top every few days and mix it around to help with aeration.

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