Home and Garden: Composting is the best of both words

Published 7:01 am Saturday, March 20, 2021

For those of us who are rediscovering our back yards after the ice of winter has thawed out, there are often branches, brush and general yard waste that has found its way to your property.

There may also be a garden that needs a push in the right direction or a stubborn lawn that refuses to go.

No matter what your needs are, Dave Hillier has you covered at Hillier Compost. He has a drop off area for yard waste and he also has feedstock for sale.

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Composting does a lot for the environment — keeping waste from taking up space.

“Composting takes all of the yard waste out of landfills, which are expensive and take 50 to 75 years for materials to break down,” Hillier said. “When you leave it on the surface and stir it and aerate it, it will take one to two years to break down.”

Hillier hires a grinder to deal with the yard waste that people drop off and then he lets nature take its course.

“Bacteria, insects and worms work on it. It decomposes that organic matter. I turn it to keep it aerated and after the material is mature, it’s a lot like a peat soil,” Hillier said. “It’s great for gardens, flower beds and for the lawn. One of the greatest benefits out of this material is that plant roots penetrate it very easily. The better root system, you’ve got, the better your plant. It’s a really nice material to work with for gardeners and landscapers.”

In the spring, the receiving area is filled with leaves, straw and garden tear outs. In the summertime, the area is filled with wet and heavier grass.

“It makes a good mix,” Hillier said. “I place that in long, narrow windrows that are probably about 10 or 12 feet high with a 15 or 20 foot base. I turn that once a month or once a week, depending on how the weather goes.”

Hillier began composting at his farm in 1993 when the city began looking for an alternate way to get rid of yard waste.

Hillier’s is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. The cost of dropping off waste or grabbing soil is very affordable. Customers can drop off all yard waste ranging from tree branches to the occasional log.

Hillier asks that people sort their own material and to take their trash bags back home with them.

To contact Hillier’s Compost, call 507-438-3228.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has an entire page devoted to composting at www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home. The following is a list of things that can be used in composting.

What To Compost

Fruits and vegetables


Coffee grounds and filters

Tea bags

Nut shells

Shredded newspaper



Yard trimmings

Grass clippings


Hay and straw



Wood chips

Cotton and Wool Rags

Hair and fur

Fireplace ashes