Home Composting and Grasscycling

Share & Bookmark, Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option


Discounted Backyard Compost Bin Program

The Thousand Oaks Public Works Department is dedicated to providing our residents with high quality, cost-effective, practical tools for diverting waste from the landfill.

The City of Thousand Oaks currently offers the FreeGarden EARTH (Enviro World) backyard compost bin to residents of Thousand Oaks. These bins are high quality, cost effective, and offer many features: 

  • One piece injection molded construction — no seams to come apart, no assembly required
  • 82 gallon capacity
  • Convenient 12”x16” offset, front harvest door
  • Twist locking lid
  • Vertical and horizontal columnar ventilation
  • Conical shape means nothing gets stuck in corners and also provides for ease of lifting off to access the entire pile
  • Rodent resistant
  • Easy, large access 20.25" diameter lid opening
  • 33” high x 31” wide
  • Made of 100% recycled materials
  • 10 year warranty
  • Fits in any vehicle

The cost to City residents is $30.00 (tax included). Limit one compost bin per household. No returns will be accepted; bins delivered damaged or defective will be replaced.

To order a compost bin from the City of Thousand Oaks, click here for an order form [PDF]. Mail your completed form with a $30 check payable to the City of Thousand Oaks to: City of Thousand Oaks Public Works Department - Compost Bin Offer, 2100 Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362.

Available to residents of the Thousand Oaks incorporated areas only. Upon receipt of your order form and payment, your request will be processed and the FreeGarden Earth composter will be delivered to your home by Athens Services within 2-3 weeks.

For more information about the Free Garden Earth composter, click here.

If you have previously purchased an Earth Machine composter and would like more information, click here.

Compost Workshops

The City does not currently have any compost workshops scheduled, however,  an instructional composting video is available for free check-out from the Thousand Oaks Grant R. Brimhall Library and the Newbury Park Library. In this 40 minute video titled "Breaking it Down With Doctor Compost", Eric Werbalowsky (aka "Doctor Compost") provides an entertaining introductory overview of backyard composting basics, giving viewers the knowledge they need to begin composting on their own. 

How To Compost

Composting is the recycling of organic materials back into a useful soil product that can be used in your garden or on potted plants. Composting can save you money and time and can reduce your garden's watering and weeding needs. It also benefits the environment by recycling valuable organic resources and extending the life of our landfills.

Compost happens no matter what you do! Soil organisms do most of the work for you by decomposing what you put in your compost pile and recycling it into usable soil amendment.

1, 2, 3's of Easy Composting

  1. Begin your pile with grass and yard trimmings and kitchen food scraps.
  2. Add enough water so that your pile is as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
  3. Mix dry brown materials with moist green materials to balance nutrients, air, and water. Turn materials once a week.

Let worms make your compost! A 2' x 2' worm box can turn all the food scraps from a two-person household into compost!  Worm Composting is ideal for people with small yards, patios, or in addition to backyard composting. Click on vermicomposting to learn more about how worms can turn food scraps into rich compost, and how to get started by making your own bin.

Composting FAQs

Do I need a bin?

You can compost in an open pile, or build your own bin out of scrap lumber, old pallets, or concrete blocks. Build it yourself! You may prefer to purchase a ready-made bin for neatness and ease of use. Bins with lids reduce odor and pest problems and are best for City neighborhoods. Plastic, wire, wooden, and worm bins are available and work very well. Residents of apartments and condominiums can compost too! Covered bucket systems and worm bins work best for small spaces.

How do I compost?

Place your pile or bin in a shady location. Mix layers of brown carbon rich materials, including dry grass, leaves, hay, pine needles, and sawdust with green nitrogen-rich materials such as vegetable kitchen scraps, grass clippings and horse manure. Use about 50 percent greens and 50 percent browns in your mix. Water when necessary to keep the mix damp, but not soggy. After a few days, the center of the pile should be hot (up to 140 degrees) and steamy -- that's the compost process at work! Water and turn the pile with a shovel or pitchfork each week to expose all material to high heat of the center of the pile.

When is the compost ready?

Ideal conditions of the proper bin system, good layering of greens and browns, the correct amount of moisture, adequate mixing, and high temperatures can produce compost in less than one month. However, it usually requires several months for good compost to be produced. Your compost is ready to use when it is brown, uniform in consistency, crumbly, and has a sweet earthy smell. You may want to sift your compost through a screen before use.

How do I use my compost?

Mix finished compost with garden soil and use it as a mulch on top of the soil, dig it into the soil, or use as a potting mix for plants in containers.

What can be composted?

Compost grass clippings, leaves, weeds, flowers, twigs, horse manure, vegetable and fruit food scraps (bury in your pile to discourage animal problems).

What cannot be composted?

Do not compost cat or dog wastes, meat, bones, dairy products, greasy food, poisonous plants, or diseased, pesticide-sprayed, or woody plants.

Compost Troubleshooting

Symptom Problem Solution
Pile not composting Too dry Moisten slightly
Too much "brown" or "green" Adjust balance of "browns" and "greens"
Not enough heat Cover open pile with dark plastic tarp to raise temperatures and add "greens".
Pile too small Start with one cubic yard of material (3 feet all around) and add more as material volume is reduced.
Pile smells bad Too wet, not enough air, or too much green material Add dry materials, such as brown leaves and sawdust, and mix.
Pile attracts excessive amounts of flies Food scraps in pile Do not use food scraps or use a bin with tight fitting cover or bury food scraps.

Learn More

Download a copy of the Feed the Earth - Compost! Brochure [PDF] (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view this document).

Also visit the Integrated Pest Management page for information on less toxic alternatives for pest management, provided by the County of Ventura Environmental and Energy Resources.

Compost Links

Worm Composting (Vermicomposting)

Why compost with worms?

Worm composting (vermicomposting) is a method for recycling food waste into a rich, dark, earth-smelling soil conditioner. The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done indoors and outdoors, allowing year round composting. It also provides apartment dwellers with a means of composting. Worm compost is made in a container filled with moistened bedding and red worms. Add your food waste and the worms and micro-organisms will eventually convert the entire contents into rich compost.

Visit these online resources for more details setting up your own vermicompost system:


Why Grasscycle?

Grasscycling contributes to a healthy lawn by returning nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. It encourages beneficial soil organisms that help prevent disease. Grasscycling also helps the soil hold more water and resist erosion. A healthy lawn is dense and vigorous and is better able to crowd out weeds.

Grasscycled lawns look beautiful, neat, and professionally groomed. When grasscycling is done well, you don't notice the clippings, only the results. Professional landscapers have grasscycled for years when appearance is a top concern, such as golf courses, resorts, and sports fields. Landscapers with expertise in grasscycling know how to give you the same lush results.

Three Easy Steps to Grasscycling

Although not necessary, consider using a mulching mower. Many are less expensive to use, quieter, and electric mowers don't need oil or gas.

  1. If you do not have a mulching mower, check the blade type on your mower or purchase a retrofit kit so that you can mow no more than one-third of the leaf blade. Be sure to mow on the days the lawn is not watered or later in the day when the grass tends to be dry.
  2. Keep equipment clean and the blades sharp. A clean cut lawn lowers the chance of disease entry and limits plant stress. It also prevents clippings from forming clumps.
  3. Leave the clippings on the lawn and apply smaller amounts of fertilizer to your lawn on a regular basis. This is more effective than applying larger amounts less often.

Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Download Acrobat Reader Windows Media Player Download Windows Media Player Word Viewer Download Word Viewer Excel Viewer Download Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer Download PowerPoint Viewer