Reusing and recycling are important individual ways to maintain and save our environment. There are a lot of things to R&R: cardboard, paper, plastics — and green waste, too! Recycling your green waste helps save valuable resources and creates a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly city. It also reduces the amount of methane in landfills.

There are several ways for you to reuse and recycle your yard waste. One convenient method is DIY compost or mulch, which you can use for your yard. Other ways to recycle your garden waste include using skip bins; signing up for a green bin collection; or dropping it off at a recycling centre.

How to recycle and reuse your yard waste? Here are four good ways to reutilise your green waste for a more sustainable lifestyle.

1. DIY Mulch or Compost

If you want to recycle your green waste and benefit your yard at the same time, you can create your own compost or mulch at home! There are many benefits to composting — it enriches your soil with organic material; helps soil retain moisture; reduces your need for chemical fertilisers; and lowers your carbon footprint. Best of all, it’s very simple to create compost or mulch at home — low effort, maximum reward!

To start off with your own homemade mulch or compost, you’ll just need green waste from your garden. You can collect clippings and other green waste yourself — or if you hire a professional gardening service to maintain your yard, just ask them to collect it for you!https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home

What not to include

Some items are not suitable for use as compost or mulch, either because of the substances they contain or the odour problems they cause. Items you should not compost or mulch include black walnut tree clippings, coal or charcoal ash, dairy products, fats and oils, meat or fish scraps, pet waste, and anything treated with chemical pesticides.

Creating your own mulch

Mulch is much more straightforward than compost since it just involves shredding any yard waste you have and layering it over the soil around your plants. One benefit to mulch is its slow release form, making it a low maintenance fertiliser to use (especially for native plants!).

For grass and leaf mulch, simply collect all your yard clippings and leaves, and pile them up in one corner. Remove any diseased or moulding leaves since these could introduce problems in your plants. Run the pile over with a lawn mower a few times to shred them — the larger the chunks you leave behind, the slower they’ll break down. Then simply layer the mulch around your plants!

Bark and chips need to be run through a wood chipper, since they’re larger and harder to break down. Pine bark is low in phosphorus so it’s good for native plants, but other kinds of bark will work well enough for most gardens.

Creating your own compost

There are several ways to compost yard waste, but a compost bin is the most straightforward. There are three basic ingredients to composting:

  • Brown waste includes dead leaves and branches — taken right from your garden. This provides carbon for your compost material.
  • Green waste includes grass clippings, and any fruit or vegetable scraps from your kitchen. You can also include used coffee grounds! These will provide the nitrogen.
  • Water is necessary to start composting, since it provides the moisture needed for the breakdown process.

Try to have equal amounts of brown and green waste, with differently-sized items.

To start, select a dry, shady spot in your yard for your compost bin, and try to locate it near a water source! Add brown and green waste materials as you collect them, making sure they’re chopped or shredded — this will help them break down easier. Moisten the materials with water as you add them.

using yard waste in compost

If you’re opting for a compost pile, you can cover it with a tarp to help retain moisture and keep the pile out of sight. Otherwise, just keep the lid of your compost bin on! It’ll take anywhere between two months to two years for the compost to be ready for use, depending on how much material you add and what kind. You’ll know your materials are done composting when you have dark, rich, loamy material — perfect for your garden.

2. Green Skip Bins

Green skip bins are cost-effective and convenient ways to remove excess household rubbish. Items that can go into skip bins include old clothes and toys, books and magazines, carpets and furniture — and even garden waste! This includes soil, leaves, grass, and branches collected from your yard.

If your pile of yard waste has gotten somewhat unmanageable, or you’ve recently redone your yard and find yourself with too many clippings and branches, you can hire a skip bin from Capital Hire. It’s easy and convenient, and best of all, Capital Hire delivers the bin right to your home, and retrieves it afterwards. Just make sure to check first what materials you can and can’t put in a skip bin — for example, food waste is a no-no!

3. Green Bin Collection

The Canberra local government has a green bin collection program, in which households can sign up for free green bin collections once a fortnight! You’ll receive a 240-litre green bin for your home if you apply. The green bin is meant for organic and garden waste, such as weeds, grass, clippings, and dead or pruned flowers and leaves. You can also include twigs and small branches provided they are no longer than 45cm and wider than 10cm. Your bin should also weigh no more than 50kg.

4. Recycling Centre

Lastly, you can look up local resource management centres or local landscaping centres, such as the Mugga Lane or Resource Management Centres. They’ll be able to recycle or process green waste from your homes for you. Check first with each centre what their requirements are, what can and cannot be processed, and what fees are involved. (Just don’t make some of these common recycling mistakes.)