Monday, April 24, 2017

How to Discreetly Compost with a Trench

Nosey neighbors? Annoying homeowners association? You can compost in your backyard for free without anyone knowing.

Composting in a pit or a trench allows you to:
  • Improve poor soil
  • Compost without worry of smells or attracting raccoons and other furry critters
  • Spend $0 to compost

How to Compost in a Trench
  1. Dig a pit or a trench as deep as you can comfortably dig. One foot deep is perfect. It can be as long or wide as you need.
  2. Place food scraps and leaves into the trench, leaving 5 inches of air space to ground level.
  3. Fill the rest of the pit or trench in with soil.
If you do not have enough material to fill your trench right away, cover food scraps with soil, leaves, or a tarp. Exposed food scraps will attract flies and other hungry creatures to your compost.

Cold Composting

Trench composting is cold composting so it will take longer to decompose than in a compost bin or pile. You will also not need to harvest the finished compost. It is already there, incorporated into your soil.


Free! Woo-Hoo!

Of course, aside from the cost of a shovel, which most people already have, trench and pit composting are free.

But, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Yep. Trench composting won’t cost you money, but it will cost you time and sweat while digging a big hole. Or a bunch of holes. Or a bunch of trenches.

You will have to dig. A lot.

I Buried My Food Scraps, Now What?

The decomposing food scraps could steal nitrogen from whatever you plant, so either wait a year to plant anything on top of a composting trench or add fertilizer.

If you want to get fancy with your hole of decomposing food scraps, check out these sites:

A different kind of buried treasure


  1. Consider planting clover over the pit. It fixes nitrogen to deal with the compost stealing nitrogen, and if you pick something like white or crimson clover, it is a great pollen source for native bees! White clover used to be mixed into lawns at a 25% rate to add the extra nitrogen lawns needed beyond just leaving the grass clipping on the yard when you mowed. No chemical salts (a.k.a. fertilizer) needed for a natural, healthy, frugal yard.