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Composting
Yard and Tree Waste
In Minnesota, it is illegal for homeowners to place yard and tree waste in their household garbage. Fortunately, they have several options for dealing with it. Yard waste is a natural product that can be composted and reused rather than taking up valuable space in a landfill. Composting is an efficient way to break down organic materials into an end product that is beneficial to the soil and growing plants. More specifically, composting is a microbial process that converts plant materials such as grass clippings and leaves to a more usable organic soil amendment or mulch.

Most garbage haulers pick up yard waste materials as part of their curbside collection program (generally for a fee). Collected bagged yard waste goes to a nearby compost facility where it is processed into a product that can be used again in a garden. Compostable bags, required in Dakota County, help to produce a more valuable compost material. Compostable bags may be purchased at most local retail, hardware, discount, and nursery stores.

Making Your Own Compost Pile
Many residents choose to deal with their yard waste by converting it to compost right on their own property. A back yard compost bin is easy to make and maintain. Many homeowners build compost bins out of large drums, wood, wire mesh, or concrete blocks.

Manufactured compost bins are commercially available through Dakota County at The Recycling Zone (formerly known as the Dakota County Eco–Site). These manufactured bins require some assembly. According to Rosemount City Code, compost containers must be placed in the rear yard at least 10 feet from all property lines.

Compost is easy to make. The essential components of compost are organic matter, water, air, and nitrogen. To make compost, simply mix organic materials such as leaves, vegetative kitchen waste, weeds (if they haven’t gone to seed), and other garden debris in a compost bin.

Tips
To speed decomposition, the materials should be moistened as they are placed into the bin and kept moist, but not water logged. An active compost pile will heat to somewhere between 130° and 160° Fahrenheit. As the center of the pile cools, the material should be turned to help speed decomposition and minimize odors.

Compost from a well-managed bin may be ready in two to four months in the warm season, whereas an untended pile will take a year or more to decompose. The size of the compost pile or bin, the composition of the yard waste in the bin, the amount of moisture in the pile, outside air temperatures, and the frequency with which it is turned can all affect the rate at which materials in a compost bin decompose.

Additional Information
For more information on composting or the location of composting facilities, call the U of M Extension Service, Dakota County at (651) 480-7700 or visit one of the following websites: