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City Services

Composting Bins

What is a compost bin and why should I use one?

Composting is the decomposition of yard and fruit/veggie food scraps by worms and bacteria. The result is a dark, crumbly, nutrient-rich humus that can be added to the soil in your garden as a natural fertilizer.  


Choose a compost system that is right for you:

Backyard Composting

  • For outdoor composting
  • For yard trimmings alone, or for a mixture of fruit, vegetable and yard trimmings
  • Low to moderate effort level
  • Requires about 3x3 feet of space or more, in sun or shade  

Worm (Vermiculture) Composting

  • For outdoor or indoor composting
  • For fruit and vegetable trimmings
  • Moderate effort level
  • Requires as little as 1x2 feet, ideally in a garage, porch, or basement  

For more information on Backyard and Worm (or Vermi) Composting, check out the Chicago Home Composting Guide or visit the Chicago Home Composting Website. If you need additional troubleshooting assistance call a Master Composter at 773.233.0476.  

 

Use Your Compost:

In the Garden
Before planting, mix a 4” to 8” layer of compost into newly reclaimed or poor soils. Mix a 1” to 3” layer of compost into annual garden beds at least once a year.  


Around the Yard

Spread a 1” to 3” layer of compost on soil as a mulch any time during the growing season to improve soil fertility and reduce watering needs. Do not pile mulch or compost on the trunk or stem of plants.  


On House Plants

Sprinkle a thin layer of sifted compost on top of the soil to provide nutrients.

Find out how you can receive a Compost Bin Rebate Form.

Chicago Home Composting Ordinance
In 2007, Chicago City Council amended the ordinance governing small-scale, residential-type, compost operations into two categories. You may compost up to 10 cubic yards of lawn and garden waste or up to 5 cubic yards of food and yard waste in-vessel (container with no opening larger than 1/4”). Larger amounts may be allowed with a permit. See more information on the composting ordinance.