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How To Create An Incredible Fall Compost Pile Now To Power Next Year’s Garden!

There is no better way to get ready to power up your garden next year than by building a great fall compost pile now. And with so many incredible materials at the ready throughout autumn, it couldn’t be easier!

Having ready-made compost in the spring is the key to getting vegetable plants and flowers off to a fast start. Compost really is the perfect all-purpose fertilizer.

fall compost pile
Whether it’s grass clippings, garden waste or leaves – fall has an abundance of compostable materials at the ready.

It provides a balanced set of nutrients to plants, all while adding valuable structure to your soil. That structure aids in retaining moisture, helping plant’s roots to grow quick and strong.

And the best way to have an abundance of ready-made compost next year is to get a healthy compost pile started this fall. Not only is there an over-abundance of available ingredients from all kinds of sources, your pile will also have plenty of time this fall and early next spring to decompose.

compost as fertilizer
Nothing can power plants to new heights like compost can!

Especially if you take a few key steps when creating your pile to help speed it all along. One thing is for sure, with just a bit of work now, you can have mounds of “black gold” to use in your gardens, flowerbeds, containers and hanging baskets next year

How To Build The Perfect Fall Compost Pile

Remember To Shred!

When it comes to a fast working compost pile, nothing will help to speed decomposition more than shredding your materials first. The larger the pieces going into your pile are, the longer it will take them to decompose.

Whether it’s leaves, garden debris, vegetables, or pumpkins and gourds – always chop and shred them before putting into your fall compost pile. If you don’t have access to a chipper or shredder, just use your lawn mower.

chipper shredder electric
An electric chipper / shredder can make quick work of shredding compost materials, but you can also use your lawnmower too.

By shredding everything now in the fall, the compost will break down fast. And that can be pretty important when it comes to having it available next year! (Product Link : Wen Electric Chipper / Shredder)

And don’t forget to turn that pile every week at least once. The more you turn, the more oxygen you add. And when oxygen is present in a pile, good things happen. Now let’s take a look at what to put in that fall compost pile!

What To Put In A Fall Compost Pile

Garden Waste

As you clear out that garden, be sure to add all of the leaves, stems and roots of the plants you are cleaning out. Corn stalks, green bean foliage, pumpkin vines and more all are perfect for adding.

Once again, be sure to shred them before adding to create a quick-to-decompose pile. Avoid adding any leaves or plants that look diseased.

blighted tomatoes
Tomatoes can easily carry blight and disease to the compost pile. For that reason and more, we leave them out of our compost pile.

One plant we do not add to our compost pile are tomatoes. They simply have too much risk of carrying disease. They also add in too many volunteer seeds from rotting or green tomatoes. See : What To Compost And What NOT To Compost

Hanging Baskets, Pots & Container Soil

Talk about the perfect material to start a fast working compost pile. Don’t just throw those those old hanging baskets and container plants to the curb – compost them!

fall compost pile
The soil and foliage of old hanging baskets are great for a fall compost pile.

Spent baskets and planters make incredible additions to a fall compost pile. Not only do the foliage, stems and roots break down, the potting soil around the plant is perfect for adding structure to the compost pile.


Leaves, of course, are quite abundant in the fall – and are wonderful for a compost pile.

With that said, it important to know some leaves are better choices for composting than others. Wild cherry, ash, beech, maple and all fruit tree leaves can be used without worry.

fall compost pile
Leaves are abundant in the fall – and a perfect ingredient for a compost pile.

Oak tree leaves however lean toward the acidic side, and using too many for a pile can create acidic compost. Keep the ratio of oak leaves in your pile under 20% to keep your compost from having too low of a PH.

Always, always, always shred leaves before placing in a compost pile! Whole leaves will stick together and take forever to compost. If you don’t own a shredder, simply run over them a few times with your lawnmower.

Grass Clippings

Fall grass clippings are always a great add to the fall compost pile. By late autumn, most weeds in a lawn have stopped producing seed heads.

grass clippings - fall compost pile
Green grass clippings are full of nitrogen and help heat up a pile quickly.

And that green grass is full of nitrogen, which can heat up your compost pile, helping to break down all of the materials quickly.

Fall Decorations

As autumn heads toward winter, you can also find an abundance of fall decorations that have seen better days. And guess what? They are perfect for adding to your fall compost pile!

holloween decorations
Once Autumn’s decorations have gone south – add them to your pile!

Whether it’s rotting gourds, pumpkins, squash, or even bales of straw – collect them up and add them to the pile. Talk about a great 2nd use for decorations!


Not everyone has chickens, cows or horses, but adding their manure to a fall pile will greatly increase the rate of decomposition. It also adds loads of nitrogen and nutrients to your pile as well.

fall compost pile
Chicken manure is a great addition to a fall compost pile.

Check with local farmers or hobby farmers. They are usually more than glad to let you clean out a stall or coop to have the goods.

There is little doubt that the chicken manure we add from our coop each fall really helps break down our pile – and helps to create rich, nutrient-filled compost for next year!

For more on building that perfect pile, see our article : How To Make Great Compost Fast! You if you need to add a compost bin, check out our easy to build compost bin article too: DIY Compost Bins

Here is to building an incredible fall compost pile – and powering your garden next year like never before! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.

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