||If you have questions about compost, soil or mulch, we have answers. Click on the questions below or call our headquarters in Valley Park, Mo. to speak to a member of our team. (636) 861-3344
Q: What is Compost?
A: Compost is the product of the controlled decomposition of organic matter that has been stabilized through the generation of heath and stabilized to the point that it is beneficial to plant growth. Compost has the unique ability to improve the physical and biological characteristics of soils or growing media. Compost contains plant nutrients but is not characterized as a fertilizer.
Q: How Do I Compost at Home?
A: Backyard composting is one of the easiest ways to join St. Louis Composting in making the world a little greener. Here’s how to get started: The recipe has three ingredients: equal parts of brown and green material plus water for moisture.
- “Browns” (dead leaves, branches, twigs) provide the carbon component of compost.
- “Greens” (grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds) produce nitrogen as they decompose.
- Water adds moisture that helps break down the organic matter.
How to Backyard Compost
- Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
- Chop and shred brown and green materials into small pieces.
- Cover the composting area with a 6-inch layer of brown materials.
- Add a 3-inch layer of green materials and a little soil or finished compost.
- Lightly mix the two layers above.
- Top with a 3-inch layer of brown materials, adding water until moist.
- Aerate the compost pile weekly by mixing it with a pitchfork or shovel - moving dry materials from the edges into the middle of the pile. Continue until the pile does not re-heat significantly after aerating.
When the compost turns dark brown or black (one to four months) it is ready to use.
Q: What is STA-Certified Compost?
A: In 2000, the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) established a Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program to provide compost producers and consumers with an industry-wide standard of quality. STA-certified compost is sampled on a regular basis as determined by product volumes. The product is tested by a USCC approved lab. Certified products contain appropriate levels of all biological and chemical properties including:
- soluble salts
- nutrient content (total N, P2O5, K2O, Ca, Mg)
- moisture content
- organic matter content
- bioassay (maturity)
- stability (respirometry)
- particle size (report only)
- pathogen (Fecal Coliform or Salmonella)
- trace metals (Part 503 regulated metals)
All STA-certified compost products also include a Compost Technical Data Sheet which details the product ingredients and provides consumers with recommendations for best use.
Q: How Does Compost Enhance the Growing Process?
A: Compost has the unique ability to improve soil quality. It improves soil structure as the intake of compost will allow the soil to be more porous while furthering the transfer of gases and the development of new roots. The application also of compost stimulates microbial activity which promotes grass growth. The benefits of using compost are long-term and related to its organic matter content. Other benefits include:
- Improves the soil structure, porosity and density
- Increases infiltration and permeability of heavy soils
- Improves water holding capacity
- Supplies a variety of macro and micronutrients
- May control or suppress certain soil-borne plant pathogens
- Supplies significant quantities of organic matter
- Improves Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of soils and growing media
- Improves and stabilizes soil pH
- Can bind and degrade specific pollutants
Q: What is Top Dressing and How Does it Benefit my Lawn?
A: Top dressing your lawn involves the direct application of a layer of compost and/or other organic material to grass.
Step-by-Step Guide to Top Dressing:
- Heavily core aerate the entire lawn area, concentrating on most heavily trafficked sections.
- Apply a ½” layer of Black Gold compost evenly across the aerated area. For the most uniform and efficient application use a top dressing unit (available for rent at St. Louis Composting) or a manure spreader.
- Smooth the surface using a raking device or a weighted drag mat. The raking/dragging will break up the soil plugs, mixing it with the compost and backfilling the aeration holes.
- Seed, lightly rake and water the top dressed area. It is important to cover the grass seed completely with the compost/soil layer to protect it from the elements.
Q: Can Colored Mulches Harm My Garden?
A: While some mulches are dyed using a chemical process, colored mulch produced by St. Louis Composting uses an organic dye that is no more toxic than table sugar. Our colored mulches are 100% safe for your yard, family and even Fido.
Q: Can I Drop Lumber at Your Facility?
A: St. Louis Composting accepts untreated lumber products at our facility. Lumber that contains paint or varnish will not be accepted. For more specific questions about lumber drops, please call our Valley Park headquarters at 636-861-3344.
Q: Do You Sell Firewood?
A: No. St. Louis Composting no longer sells firewood at any of our facilities.
Q: Can I Drop Off My Christmas Tree at Your Facility?
A: Yes. Drop off your Christmas tree at any of the St. Louis Composting locations. The fee is $1 per tree.
Q: Can I Bring Materials to Your Facility in a Plastic Bag?
A: If you transport materials to St. Louis Composting in a plastic bags or containers, all compost material MUST remove from the bag before depositing. A single-stream recycling bin is available to deposit used plastic bags or containers after they have been emptied of all organic material.
Q: Does St. Louis Composting Accept Food Waste, Animal Bedding or Cardboard?
A: Our Belleville, IL and St. Louis City facilities accept pre-consumer food waste, animal bedding and waxed cardboard. If you have products that you would like to drop off that are not listed on our site, please contact us prior to drop off at 636-861-3344.