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DIY Composting

Composting is a process in which organic material is broken down by bacteria and other microorganisms via decomposition. The resulting material is called compost, which can be used for gardening.

Compost is a valuable soil additive for any garden, big or small. Mixing compost into your soil can improve drainage, increase organic matter and help your plants grow better.

Community gardens can invest in a compost bin or designate a composting area. This will help to reduce horticultural waste and provide free compost for the garden.

For aerobic composting, also known as traditional composting, you will need both carbon-based ‘brown’ materials and nitrogen-based ‘green’ materials.  A good compost needs to have a balanced amount of 'browns' and 'greens' components.


Here are some common materials you can add to your compost:



Woody plant parts

Leafy vegetable scraps

Dry leaves

Fruit peels

Cardboard egg trays

Fresh grass clippings


Fresh leaves


Coffee grounds


Tea leaves


Steps to starting and maintaining a compost bin:


Setting up your compost bin

1. Choose a location for the compost bin or heap in a sheltered area of the garden

2. Cut the ‘browns’ and ‘greens’ into smaller pieces for faster composting. Spread them in layers on top of each other and add some healthy soil or old compost between the layers. The soil and old compost will introduce beneficial soil bacteria and fungi to kick-start the composting process.

3. Add enough water to ensure that the compost pile is moist like a wrung-out sponge. Do not overwater.

Maintaining your compost bin

4. Turn the bin or mix the materials every week to aerate the heap. This will introduce air and speed up the decomposition process. Heat will be generated during this process.

5. Continue to add the ‘browns’ and ‘greens’ to the mix. Add water if necessary, to keep the pile moist.

Composting and preparing for use

6. After two to four months, the compost should be dark brown or black and have an earthy smell.



For more information on traditional composting, please click on the following


Printable version

Traditional Composting brochure (PDF, 1.1MB)

Download (PDF, 0.9MB)


Tips for aerobic composting:

  • When adding new material to the compost bin, keep the ratio of browns to greens 2:1*
  • Place the container in a well-ventilated area
  • Ensure that the composting bin has ventilation holes
  • Check your compost regularly 
  • Ensure all materials added are disease and weed-free to keep the compost safe for garden use


*If the carbon to nitrogen ratio is too low, there may be an unpleasant odour due to the ammonia gas released during the composting process, which results from having too much nitrogen


Composting-related Videos

  1. Composting Demonstration

    Composting is a simple way to bring and feed the diverse life in soil, to provide more nutrients and help your plants to grow! Join our Community in Bloom Ambassador, Mr Kong Wah Beng, as he shares some tips on building your own DIY composting bins at home.


  2. Build a Worm Tower in 5 Steps

    Worm towers are built with food scraps, dried leaves and composting worms to produce vermicompost - a natural source of fertiliser and soil amendment. Learn how to make your own worm tower for your garden in just 5 steps!


  3. How to compost

Curious on how to make use of your garden waste by recycling it into compost? Meet Rosalind Tan, CIB Ambassador at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, as she takes you through a short educational video on the tips and tricks of making garden compost.




Last updated on 19 April 2021

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