This is How We Layered Our First Compost Bin

This is how we layered our first compost bin. After researching about the lasagna layering method, we just gave it a try!

woman layering compost with food scraps

Here’s the compost bin we built with reclaimed wood from our old original siding. Got the lid up and it was empty. This is where our compost layering adventures began. Very exciting as it was my first compost bin! Now we just needed to get some worms for indoor composting!

empty compost bin


We picked up all these leaves from different neighbor’s houses (with their permission of course!). And this is how we started to make the compost. There were a ton of leaves! Nate was getting the mower so he could mow the leaves and break them down into smaller pieces. He started to pour the bags of leaves on the grass to spread them out evenly so he could mow on top of them. Who knew you’d get so excited about somebody’s trash (leaves)!

man mowing leaves

Later we realized that you don’t actually need to mow the leaves. You can just dump them right into the compost bin! So that was an extra step that became extra work for us and not really needed at all.

Save your mower and time by NOT doing this!


Next we worked on gathering another neighbor’s yard trimmings of tree branches with dried up leaves on them. They would be great for the first bottom layer and to create aeration throughout the bin. As we would add more materials to the bin, there would be a way to aerate and have air flowing and moving throughout. That way the materials were not just all compact at the bottom.

As I layered the base of the compost bin with tree branches, I really liked to stack the smaller ones on top of each other. The larger branches would be harder to break down and take up more room. I also stepped on the branches to crunch them down so that I could add even more to the bin.

woman stepping on tree branches in compost bin


Next, we added a layer of the mower shredded leaves. This was an exciting moment as we began this whole process for the first time! We were like little kids working on a project in the backyard. It was definitely a moment of pride and accomplishment. 

pouring leaves to layer compost bin

Later we got into the habit of adding grass clippings as well. Although a lot of people do use grass clippings, you have to be careful because here in our area, we have a lot of weed grass. So if you are not able to get your compost bin hot enough to really break down and compost the materials and you put it into your garden, you may end up with more weeds. You can also use wood chips to combat that a bit as well. So~ just be mindful of this. 

It’s amazing how a lot of the materials for a compost bin can literally be found in your own backyard or neighbor’s yard – like the leaves and tree trimmings they leave out for the city to pick up. And also the grass clippings from your own yard. We used our own food scraps and started the layering process with all those things we gathered. It was like making lasagna with ingredients from nature!


The next thing we did was to begin adding food scraps we saved and kept in the freezer. As some of it began to melt in the buckets, it produced what I would call in my own words~ this juicy, fermented bacterial compost starter. And it was pretty gross and nasty actually. It was gross, but so good! Well, so good for the compost bin that’s for sure!

compost food scraps in bucket

We added so many of our mostly organic food scraps from prepping daily meals and items that just went bad before we could use them up. This included spinach, lots of banana and orange peels, avocado skins, carrot and celery and cucumber stems, egg shells, coffee grinds, and much more.

compost food scraps and food waste

I also realized that we needed to get some coffee grinds from our local coffee shop as well. The layering continued as we also added water and more leaves! Remember~ we’re making a delicious lasagna compost to feed our garden.

coffee grinds in compost bin


This whole process was a very awesome learning experience for us. And it was really great for the garden.

One of the things I just didn’t really like about living in an apartment, where we were living before, was that I always felt bad about throwing food scraps away. Like that banana peel or egg shells. It is trash, so you do have to throw it away, but then I would think about how it would just end up in a landfill somewhere.

Composting instead would turn our “trash” into something useful like soil. It just felt so wasteful throwing food scraps in the trash. But it seemed more complicated to compost while living in an apartment. Yet, I know there were still ways that we could have composted or donated our food waste for the purposes of composting. 

I knew that having this home now was the perfect opportunity to put our food waste to use and I really didn’t want to feel guilty about it anymore as well. And now we never have to throw our food scraps away. It’s an awesome feeling for sure!

Our food scraps now just become food for the garden at the end of the day. And this whole experience has been a beautiful little cycle of life that we have been learning. I’m calling this my little urban homestead adventure! 

man watering compost bin

We continued to layer with more leaves, food scraps, coffee grinds from a local cafe, and lots of water in between the layers to keep it moist. Not too dry and not too wet. A perfect balance of nature’s materials. 

Isaiah 65:21

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

woman layering compost bin with tree branches and food scraps


Thanks for joining us on this journey! We hope that you will find inspiration watching us learn as we go while we’re attempting to renovate and rebuild this old small historic cottage mostly on our own. Stay tuned for more progress updates ahead! 

You can also watch a video about this here.

To see more adventures of our tiny fixer upper journey, click on the links below.



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