Build a compost pile

Tip from the test garden

To dispense with all those fallen leaves you rake up this month, build a compost pile. Start with a 4-foot-wide piece of 12- to 14-gauge wire fencing.

1.  Bend the wire into a cylinder about 4 feet in diameter. Wire together the cut edges.

2.  Fill the cylinder with alternating 6-inch layers of brown matter (such as dried leaves and wood chips) and green matter (such as grass clippings). Keep the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge, and aerate it every week or so. (Lift the cylinder and move it to one side; fork materials back into it.) Compost is ready when it's brown and crumbly; this could take a few months in cooler weather.


  • Compost wire
  • Compost shovel
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