The materials you want to compost, the amount of space you have and your desired effort level can guide your choice.
This is the easiest method for composting yard trimmings alone or mixed with fruit and vegetable trimmings and requires relatively little garden space (about 3 feet by 3 feet) in sun or shade. For yard trimmings only, you can use an open pile or a simple holding bin made of wire mesh or salvaged lumber.
If adding fruit and vegetable trimmings, use a rodent-resistant bin.
Simply add chopped browns and greens to the bin or pile as you generate them. Be sure to mix moist green materials such as fruits, vegetables and grass clippings into the dryer materials of the pile so as not to attract pests. In four to 12 months you should have soil-like compost to harvest at the bottom of the pile.
Hot composting requires a bit more effort and space but is the fastest method for composting yard trimmings alone or mixed with fruit and vegetable trimmings. It can also kill weed seeds and plant diseases.
A two- or three-bin system that allows access to the compost for turning is ideal for hot composting. Mix alternating layers of brown (high carbon) and green (high-nitrogen) materials in a 2-1 or 1-1 ratio, and dampen the pile as you go. Fill the entire bin with this mixture.
Just after the pile temperature peaks and decreases significantly (usually within one week), turn and mix the materials into the next bin. Repeat a few times, then let compost cure for several weeks. If the material in the pile seems dry, add more water; if it didn’t get hot initially, add more high-nitrogen material (or nitrogen fertilizer). The whole process commonly takes one to three months. Compost is finished when it is cool and looks nice and brown.
Learn now to compost with a worm bin.