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What is Composting II Where to Get Worms II What is Grass-cycling II Why Compost II Other Resources and contacts

This compost information was provided courtesy of the Cowlitz County Extension Office for Washington State University 

What is Composting?

Composting is nature's process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. Anything that was once living will decompose. Basically, backyard composting is an acceleration of the same process nature uses. By composting your organic waste, you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Finished compost looks like soil - dark brown, crumbly, and smelling like a forest floor.

Composting ideas to consider:

Where do you get the worms for composting?

The Washington State University’s Extension Office has various examples of composting at the Master Gardener demonstration garden located at the fairgrounds. They have several worm bins there that are on display. In addition, they also have a WSU Master Gardner volunteer who oversees the worms and can provide you with free worms to help get you started! If you are interested, please contact the Extension Program Director at 360-577-3014, extension 3, or by email and you will be connected to the WSU Master Gardener volunteer. 

What is grass-cycling?

Grass-cycling is the simple practice of leaving grass clippings on the lawn when mowing. Once cut, grass clippings first dehydrate, then decompose and quickly disappear from view.


  • Encourages a healthier lawn by returning nutrients to the soil beneath the lawn
  • Reduces work because you don’t have to bag or rake and dispose of your clippings
  • Saves you money because you don’t have to pay for disposal of your clippings
  • Benefits the environment by naturally recycling the clippings

Common Concerns Regarding Grass-cycling:

  • Does grass-cycling cause thatch?

    No!  Research has shown that grass roots are the primary cause of thatch, not grass clippings. Thatch is composed primarily of roots, stems and other plant materials. These plant materials contain large amounts of lignin (fibrous material) and decompose slowly. Grass clippings are approximately 80-85 percent water with only small amounts of lignin, and decompose much quicker.
  • Does grass-cycling spread lawn disease?

    No!  Improper watering and fertilizing have a much greater impact on disease spread than grass-cycling. If a desirable environment for turf grass disease is present, infestation will occur whether clippings are collected or not. 
  • Will grass-cycling make my lawn look bad?

    No!  If a lawn is properly mowed, watered, fertilized, grass-cycling can actually produce a healthier lawn. It is important to cut the lawn frequently to produce small clippings that will decompose quickly. If a lawn is not cut frequently and the clippings are left on the lawn, it will produce a “hay-like” look which may be unsightly.

Why should you compost? Here are ten good reasons!

  • Yard and food waste make up 30% of the waste stream. Composting your kitchen and yard trimmings helps divert that waste from the landfill, waterways, and water treatment facilities.
  • You will significantly reduce pest problems and your use of pesticides.
  • Healthy plants from healthy soil look better, produce better and have a much greater ability to fight off pests and diseases.
  • Adding organic materials to the soil improves moisture retention.
  • Adding decomposed organic material to the soil feeds beneficial organisms.
  • Compost amends both sandy and clay soils.
  • Compost provides a balanced, slow–release source of nutrients that helps the soil hold nutrients long enough for plants to use them.
  • Composting saves money and you avoid the cost of buying soil conditioners, bagged manure, etc.
  • Feeding your edible plants will improve your own diet. Plants grown in depleted soils have a reduced nutrient content.
  • Home composting is a valuable tool in educating children about nature and the cycle of life.

Other Resources and Contacts


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Last updated: 7/20/2015 8:14:20 AM