DIY Network

Capturing Water and Making a Compost Heap

Learn how to capture water from natural sources and start a compost pile from household scraps.

More in Outdoors

leaves and grass clippings make healthy soil mix
Photo 2 of 7In addition to using captured water in your yard, there are other sources around your home that will make your garden healthier.

Making a Compost Pile (2 of 7)

Turning kitchen scraps and yard clippings into usable compost is another terrific family project. You may be surprised how many things that you would usually throw in the trash or disposal can actually be turned into compost.
Composting means using recycled or gathered materials, such as leaves and grass clippings, to make a healthy soil-amendment mix. These natural materials break down into their base elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These are the same ingredients you buy in bagged fertilizers; compost is their organic counterpart.
Composting accomplishes a lot of things at once: First, it keeps yard debris out of landfills. Second, it speeds up the natural process of decomposition, which will eventually happen anyway. Third, putting decomposed plant waste back into the garden really improves the quality of the soil--and that adds up to bigger and more productive vegetable plants.
Compost needs a certain ratio of brown and green materials in order to work most effectively. Brown things are dry, like paper and fallen leaves, and should make up about 75 percent to 80 percent of your compost; green materials still have moisture in them, like fresh grass and fruit and vegetable peels; these should make up the rest of your compost pile.

Next Photo: What to Compost