Green Compost vs. Brown Compost: The Essential Mix

Apr 23, 2020 | Landscape Supply, Uncategorized

Compost is decomposed organic matter that is made with materials like kitchen scraps, leaves, twigs, and animal manure. Composting involves four main components. These are organic matter, moisture, oxygen, and bacteria. Organic matter comes in two different types, green compost and brown compost, which we will get into later. 

Why Compost Matters

Gardeners and landscapers alike often refer to compost as black gold because it is so nutrient rich and can help rejuvenate plants, grass, vegetables, trees, and more. There are countless ways to use compost, including in flower beds and plant beds, and to enrich your lawn. Compost is a great amendment to difficult or unhealthy soil. If you have beds of soil that have too much sand, too much clay, or the wrong pH balance, compost can help fix that problem. Mixed with the existing dirt, compost can provide new life to your plants, shrubs, and grass.

In addition to flower beds and lawns, you can also use compost in vegetable gardens, and even as mulch for trees and shrubs. Using mulch in gardens and around trunks and stems of trees can enrich the soil and even discourage pests.

Green Compost Materials

Green compost materials are high in nitrogen. There are many materials that are considered green for composting purposes. This includes orange and banana peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings, hops, hay, kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps, non-human or pet manure in small amounts, paste and sauce, seaweed, stale bread, and weeds.

Brown Compost Materials

Brown compost materials are high in carbon. Brown compost materials include dried out corn stalks, branches and twigs that are finely chopped, dried up weeds, dead flowers, fall leaves, newspapers, sawdust, unsalted peanut shells, shells from clams and oysters, tree bark, straw, fireplace and wood ash, old mulch, pine cones and needles in small amounts, and plant roots.

To make compost faster, it’s a good idea to shred materials before putting them in your composter. This action creates more surface area and increases the rate of decomposition that occurs.

What Else You Can Compost

Wondering if there is anything else that you can compost? There is! You can compost things like brown cardboard, brown paper bags, the cardboard core of wrapping paper, tissues, hair trimmings, corks, paper towels, stale bread, toothpicks, tea bags, vegetable oil, wax paper, and white 100% cotton shirts. It’s important to note that some of these things, like the corks from wine bottles, will decompose very, very slowly.

What Not to Compost

Knowing what to compost is important, but so is knowing what you should not put in the composter. Certain things like bones, weeds with a lot of seeds, colored papers, and colored print materials should not be composed. You should also avoid dairy products, diseased plants, fish, meats, pet or human excrement, plastics, treated wood, poisonous plants, and any type of inorganic material.

The Essential Compost Mix

So, now that you know all about compost materials and what you cannot compost, how do you create the perfect mix? Experts typically refer to the ideal compost C:N ratio as 30 parts to 1 part. C in this formula is carbon, which is brown compost, whereas N is nitrogen, which is green compost. However, it is important to note that different materials have different carbon and nitrogen ratios. Horse manure is 25:1 whereas fall leaves are about 80:1. You need to look at your individual ingredients to ensure that overall, your ratio is 30:1.

Whatever combination of materials you choose, it is important to get your ratio right. The right ratio of carbon and nitrogen makes microbes happy, which encourages them to grow faster and breakdown the materials quicker.

Can you buy already-made compost?

Yes! If you are struggling with figuring out composting on your own, you can actually buy pre-made compost at your local landscape supply or hardware store. Compost is a great organic material to improve soil quality and your plant health, so whether you make it yourself or buy premade it is a good idea to use it!

Turn to the experts at Kurtz Bros., for help choosing the perfect compost!

If you are too busy to maintain your own compost pile, Kurtz Bros. Inc. can help. You can order your compost right from Kurtz Bros.,! In fact, we have several different types of compost available, including Earthblend Leaf Compost, Premium Compost, and Sweet Peet. If you aren’t sure which type of compost is best for you, our knowledgeable team can help steer you in the right direction. Plus, while you’re at the store, you can also pick up everything else you need to get the job done. From shovels and rakes to soil and fertilizers, we have it all at Kurtz Bros., Stop by the store or give us a call today to learn more about our compost options and landscape tools and materials.  

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Expertly Reviewed By:
Matt Malone, Vice President Operations
Matt Malone
Matt is an accomplished business professional with over three decades of experience in the green industry. As a graduate of the University of Toledo with a Bachelors of Business Administration, he has put his extensive education and training to work in his nearly 15 years with Kurtz Bros., where he currently serves as Vice President of Operations.

Learn More About Matt

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