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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment


Organic matter such as yard and food wastes comprises 23% of the waste generated in the United States. Composting is an effective, inexpensive, and natural way to handle this organic waste. With many of Maryland's jurisdictions banning yard wastes, composting is an important part of Maryland's waste management strategy.

What is Composting?

Composting is the process by which organic matter is biodegraded to a soil-like condition called compost or humus. Composting works best with a 2:1 Green/Brown ratio:

  • "Greens" are the source of nitrogen and include items such as grass clippings, almost all food waste, old plants, wilted flowers, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and manure;
  • "Browns" are the source of carbon and include items such as leaves, hay, straw, wood chips, sawdust, chipped brush, and shredded newspapers.

DO NOT use meat, fish, bones, dairy foods, fats, and oil or grease when composting because they smell, attract pests, and retard the biological process that converts the organic material to compost.

When organics are composted, they become natural soil additives for use on lawns, gardens, and potting soil. As a soil amendment or mulch, compost adds essential nutrients to the soil, improves soil texture, moderates temperatures, and increases the ability of the soil to absorb air and water. It also suppresses weed growth, decreases erosion, and reduces the need to apply commercial soil additives, thereby saving you money.

CompostingResources for More Information

For further information on composting contact:

For more information, contact The Waste Diversion and Utilization Program at 410-537-3314.

Composting Topics

Build a compost pile
How to build a worm farm