Should Weeds Be Added to the Compost Pile?

comments (9) December 30th, 2010

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Should you add weeds to the compost pile?
Photo by Darrell Mitchell under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

Should you add weeds to the compost pile?

Photo by Darrell Mitchell under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

So, you've just spent a cool spring morning pulling up fresh, nitrogen-rich weeds in your garden and yard. Should you head for the green waste can on the side yard or toss the weeds into your compost pile.

The issue of whether or not to add weeds to a compost pile comes up frequently. I'm not being coy when I say that there’s honestly no right or wrong answer. It's more a question of timing as well as the type of weed you have in your hand.

I can only tell you why you might and why you might not, and what I do with my weeds. I do add weeds to my hot compost pile but the majority I put in there have not gone to seed. I try to pull the weeds up before they have any seed heads, and it’s all good as far as I’m concerned (I’m determined to have their short, weedy lives have some meaning).

If one or two with seeds get in there, I don’t stress about it because, for the most part, hot piles fry the little seeds to death before they can rear their ugly heads again. That said, I won’t throw any weeds into my cold pile that have gone to seed. That’s just asking for trouble.

Keep in mind that some weeds propagate them themselves from their rootstocks or even from pieces of root. One way to prevent this type of weed from procreating is to pull the weed and lay it on the open ground in the sun. This lets the roots dry out completely until they’re all dried out - quite dead. At this point when they're thrown onto the compost pile, it's as a brown instead of a green.

posted in: weeds in compost

Comments (9)

LyraDin writes: this is nice
Posted: 3:29 am on October 10th
KathiGillis writes: amazing dude
Posted: 2:26 am on September 3rd
SallyHanson writes: good job
Posted: 2:16 am on August 30th
PaulMelody writes: well done work
Posted: 3:40 am on August 5th
vincentclark writes: Nice article dear
Posted: 12:43 am on August 2nd
Jaiijunior writes: I've been asked this many times before.
I've tried shredding them by scissors of course, removing the seeds and throwing away the roots.
But no matter what i normally get a fair few seeds in the compost bin, but heres a hint.
Put all the weeds (chopped or sliced up) into a pan of boiling water, for 10 or so minutes. Leave to cool, or luke warm. Strain the weeds from the water, and then bottle up the water and then there is a fertiliser all homemade, it works great! and the left over weeds could be disposed of or put in to the compost. It works for me. Why not try it? :)
Posted: 3:15 pm on February 3rd
arthurb3 writes: In general, yes. You do want to make sure there are no seed on the weeds and that the roots chopped up or dead so you do not have then growning in your compost pile!
Posted: 10:00 am on January 28th
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: Just the image of drowning the weeds brings a lightening of my heart and spring to my step...LOL.

Thanks, John!
Posted: 6:01 pm on December 30th
CompostJohn writes: If you really don't want your garden waste to be driven away in a gas-guzzling lorry, and then shredded by a gas-guzzling shredding machine, there is a way of dealing with the perennial roots, seeding weeds and other allegedly difficult to compost materials.


Yes, plants need air... even roots and seeds, so if you put all your suspect weeds, seedheads, running roots, etc, in a bucket of rainwater for several weeks, all the living vegetative material will die and start to smell... well, 'fragrant'. The liquid can be used as a feed, as it will contain soluble nutrients (like nettle tea, comfrey tea)or you can tip the whole lot on the heap. This is a guaranteed way of dealing with all roots, seeds, regenerative stems... everything. I've even done this with Japanese Knotweed, one of the most difficult to kill plants.

John 'Compost' Cossham, York, UK
Posted: 6:00 pm on December 30th
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