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Home composting

What happens to food waste in landfill

When compostable material breaks down in landfill, methane (a harmful greenhouse gas) is produced. A toxic liquid called leachate is also produced which can leak into the ground and contaminate underground water systems.

Diverting food and garden waste from landfill

There are several different ways of composting at home: using one of the home composting methods, or putting your garden waste in the brown bin or your food waste in the green caddy and then having the contents collected by the Council.

Compost can be used as an efficient soil improver or mulch. Plants are healthier if they are grown in soil which has been enriched with compost - they are less susceptible to attacks by pests and diseases. Soil-borne pests and diseases are also reduced, soil fertility is increased and the soil's structure is improved.

Materials you can compost at home

List of composting materials
Green materials (Yes)Brown materials (Yes)Do not put the following in your compost bin (No)
Cut flowers Eggshells Cooked food
Fruit scraps and vegetable peelings Contents of your vacuum cleaner Raw meat and fish (including bones)
Garden and house plant Straw and hay Diseased plants
Grass cuttings Vegetarian pet bedding (ie rabbits) Coal or coke ash (small amount of wood ash is okay)
Tea leaves/bags and coffee grounds   Cat or dog waste
Young annual weeds   Nappies, glass, plastic or metal

Remember that weeds are necessary for soil fertility.

Compost uses

Applying to soil

Compost should be applied to your soil in the spring and summer so your plants will get the benefit of the nutrients during the growing season.

Roughly, use one wheelbarrow full of compost per five square metres. This should supply enough nutrients for one season.

Compost can be either dug into the top 15-20 cms of soil (no deeper) or left on the surface to act as a mulch (make sure the soil is moist before doing this). It can be spread over soil surrounding established plants.

For use with shrubs

For most shrubs a mulch of compost applied every three years is sufficient, however, for roses and other shrubs that are pruned hard each year, a more regular feed of compost may be required.

For use with bedding plants

If the soil is already in good condition, adding compost to the soil is unnecessary as too many nutrients can encourage leafy growth in bedding plants, at the expense of flowers.

For use on lawns

Sifted compost can be applied thinly as a top dressing to lawns in spring or summer.

For use in tubs and planters

A layer of compost can be added to the surface of pots and tubs in the spring.

For use in a vegetable patch

As vegetables like a rich soil, it is important to add compost to your vegetable garden every year. This will add the necessary nutrients to the soil and help to improve the soil structure.

Applying to herbaceous borders

Mulch with compost every three years.

Using as potting compost

As garden compost is so rich, it must be diluted before using it as a potting compost for raising seedlings. Use one part (by volume) of compost with one part of loam/good soil and one part leaf mould or coir.

Making compost tea

A compost infusion sprayed onto plants that are being attacked by pests or diseases can benefit plants and prevent diseases from spreading.

  • Take mature compost and fill a bucket with one part compost to five parts water.
  • Stir, cover and leave to ferment for 10 days.
  • Strain into another bucket, leave to settle and then spray the liquid onto affected plants.

This can be repeated after two or three weeks. Crops that have been treated with compost tea should be washed before consuming and it should not be used on leafy vegetables that are to be eaten raw.

For more detailed information visit the Recycle for Scotland website.

Compost to go scheme

Our Compost To Go scheme enables East Ayrshire residents to collect supplies of this compost from the Recycling Centres at Western Road, Kilmarnock and at Garlaff near Cumnock, free of charge.

Contact Information


Cleaner Communities
Western Road Depot
East Ayrshire
Telephone: 01563 554400