Three essentials for composting outdoors

My, how the worm has turned.

Anyone can compost outdoors by making a pile surrounded by wood or wire, using a composter, or starting a worm farm to feast on your food scraps. Over a period of months to years, cultivate a mix of browns from your yard (like dead leaves and twigs), water, and greens (like food waste and coffee grounds). You’ll lower your carbon footprint, and create organic fertilizer that helps plants thrive. Here are our top picks to get you started.

Great tool: Lotech Products Compost Crank Twist Compost Aerator

Hand-Powered

Turn your waste with ease. Amazon

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A little engagement with your compost pile goes a long way toward efficient decomposition. This stainless steel tool has a worm-like squiggle at the bottom that allows you to twist it like a corkscrew to mix and aerate your pile. It’s 32 inches long and effective up to a depth of 29 inches, and it even works in tangled materials like vines. For people who don’t relish the idea of digging in the dirt, it offers a way to keep hands comfortably away from last month’s banana peels.

Serious choice: FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter

Choose Between Two Colors

Holds a lot of waste. Amazon

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This great composter has the added benefit of coming in a shocking shade of blue, so you can get the same green benefits without sacrificing style. (Of course, it also comes in the regular black-ish compost bin color.) Anyway, your compost materials go into the dual compartments of this eight-sided drum. Turn the drum to easily to aerate and mix. It holds 37 gallons of material.

Editor’s pick: Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin

Four Layers

Enrich the soil through vermiculture. Amazon

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Behold this perfect worm hotel where Red Wigglers provide you with rich compost and worm tea (nom nom) in exchange for delicious food and a place to rest their segments. It’s made from a series of four stacking trays (with a worm ladder for ease of travel) and can be expanded with up to four additional trays as needed. This bin comes with a hand rake, thermometer, and scraper, as well as access to detailed digital instructions. Welcome your worms (sold separately) with fresh bedding (really, just not what we think of as bedding).