Home Composting

Compost in wheelbarrow along a path in a garden

Overview

Create a sustainable, healthy place for you, your family and the environment.

Adding compost to your soil improves its structure, helps it absorb and hold moisture, supplies slow-release nutrients to plants and reduces erosion. An integral part of sustainable gardening, composting helps you create a vibrant, healthy and beautiful garden while conserving water and energy, and reducing pollution and waste. Attend one of our free workshops to learn how.

Compost Workshops

Workshops are free and last about 2 hours. If there are fewer than 15 people registered, workshops will be cancelled - so please pre-register. Adults only please.

Additional compost workshops are available throughout Santa Clara County. Here is a list of all the 2021 workshops for ‘Compost Basics’ and ‘Worm Composting Basics’ workshops. Residents are welcome to attend any workshop held in the county.

The Soil Saver™ compost bin and Wriggly Wranch™ worm bin will be available for sale at all workshops.

Workshops are sponsored by the City of Palo Alto, Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission of Santa Clara County, and UCCE Master Gardeners. 

Worm Composting

Worms will eat your kitchen scraps and create a nutrient rich soil amendment for indoor and outdoor plants. This is a no fuss, no smell and low maintenance way to compost. Come to one of our FREE workshops and learn how easy and fun worm composting can be.

All workshops require pre-registration since space is limited.

July 17, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Cubberley Community Center, Room U-7
4000 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

Compost Basics

Learn how easy it is to turn your yard trimmings and food scraps into compost at home, attend one of these FREE compost workshops.

All workshops require pre-registration since space is limited.

March 6, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Register at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=32539

April 10, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

April 17, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Gamble Garden
1431 Waverley Street
Palo Alto
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

April 22, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Register online or call (408) 918-4640 

April 24, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

May 15, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

May 22, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

June 6, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Via Zoom
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

August 7, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Cubberley Community Center, Room U-7
4000 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

September 8, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Cubberley Community Center, Room U-7
4000 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

October 2, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden
851 Center Drive
Palo Alto
Register online or call (408) 918-4640

 

 

Free Compost Bins - 2021 Special

Palo Alto residents can receive a free compost bin or worm bin (one per household) by attending a compost workshop. Bins are available while supplies last.

The bins given away are the Soil Saver™ compost bin and Wriggly Wranch™ worm bin.

Compost Party

Learn about composting with your friends and neighbors in your own backyard!  Gather 10-15 friends and neighbors and a Master Composter will come to your home to show you and your guests how to compost. They’ll even start your bin for you during the lesson.

Already have a bin? Host a party and share the joys of composting with your friends, allowing them to learn on an active bin and see a real-life example of how it works. Plus, the Master Composter can help you troubleshoot any problems you might be having.

For more information and to schedule a party, call (650) 496-5910.

Free Garden-Ready Compost

Need more compost than you can make? Don’t have time to make your own? You can get free compost at the following locations:

Compost Giveaway Station

Palo Alto residents can pick up free compost at the new Compost Giveaway Station. 

Location:

Eleanor Pardee Community Garden 
851 Center Road, Palo Alto

Directions:

The Compost Giveaway Station is located at Eleanor Pardee Community Garden, on Center Road near Martin Street.

Hours:

Tuesday through Sunday - 9 AM – 4 PM  
Monday - CLOSED

Availability:

Compost is available while supplies last. 

Guidelines:
  • Palo Alto residents only
  • Bring your own shovel and containers to put compost in
  • Only one car is allowed at the compost pile at a time
  • Pickup limited to 96 gallons per week
  • Drive carefully – gardeners and pedestrians enjoy the garden and are in the area

 

SMaRT Station

The Sunnyvale Materials Recovery and Transfer (SMaRT) Station offers compost at no charge to residents of Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto. 

Location:

310 Carl Road, Sunnyvale

Hours:

Monday through Saturday - 8 AM – 5 PM  
Sunday - CLOSED

Availability:

The available supply of compost can vary so it is best to call before you go (408) 752-8530.

Guidelines: 
  • Bring your own shovel and containers to put compost in. 
  • Wear a face mask. 
  • Only one person is allowed out of the vehicle at a time.
  • Pickup limited to 96 gallons per week.

 

Visit the SMaRT Station online for additional information.

 

 

What is composting?

Composting is the natural process of decomposition of organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable humus-rich soil amendment known as compost. Anything that grows decomposes eventually; composting simply speeds up the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes) to do their work. The resulting decomposed matter, which often ends up looking like fertile garden soil, is called compost. Fondly referred to by farmers as “black gold,” compost is rich in nutrients and can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture.