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Composting Leaves & Coffee Grounds in the Winter: Expert Tips

compost pile with dirt and coffee grounds and filters

When things get cold and old man winter rears his head, certain precautions must be taken around the house. For some of us, this means getting your compost routine in order. Properly caring for your compost becomes more difficult in the winter, which is understandable. Luckily, leaves and coffee grounds can make things stay in tip-top shape. Here are a few tips and tricks for composting leaves and coffee grounds in the winter that you can put to good use if you have a compost bin or pile in your backyard.

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Top 5 Tips For Composting Leaves & Coffee Grounds in Winter

1.  Keep Your Compost Pile Well Insulated

A compost bin depends on bacteria to be successful. If the pile in your bin gets too cold, it will lose this activity. To avoid this issue, your compost bin must be properly insulated. Luckily, there are several ways you can do this. One way is to move your bin into your garage or cellar if you have this option. This will help keep it warmer and more active. Another smart idea is to cover your bin or pile. Planks of wood over your bin or the use of a tarp can keep things safer from the cold weather. If you use a compost pile, instead of a bin, the tarp idea works well in these situations too.

2. Keep Your Pile Small for the Winter Months

Leaves and coffee are great for composting during the winter due to the small space they take up. Compost bins and piles should be on the smaller side when the weather is cooler. Since coffee grounds are so small, they are ideal for this time of year. When adding leaves, however, keep in mind that it is best if you crunch them up to make them smaller. This will help keep your pile at a modest size and functioning well.

3. Don’t Over Water

During the winter, the air outside is much dryer. This means your compost pile will need added moisture to keep the bacteria healthier. Unfortunately, during the winter, it is very easy to overwater your pile. Too much water can be detrimental to what you’re hoping to achieve. You should also remember that when the weather outside is too frigid, you shouldn’t add water at this time. It can cause freeze issues and damage your compost.

4. Keep Your Compost Bin Active

Composting is a balancing act all year round. This is especially true in the winter. You need to keep your bin or pile active by continuously adding to it, but remember how important the right additions are. Mix brown and green materials so your bacteria stay healthy. You should do this each time you turn your compost; this will add the nitrogen you need in your bin.

natural compost with used coffee grounds
Image Credit: photoschmidt, Shutterstock

5. Don’t Over Tumble Your Compost

We just mentioned turning your compost bin or pile. This is the process of raking or turning your materials to ensure they stay aerated. Everything slows down in the winter, though, and this includes how often you tumble your compost. Instead of turning as often as you did during the warmer months, only turn your compost when you add to it. This will help you keep the colder air out and the warmer air trapped inside your compost where it needs to be.

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The Importance of Coffee Ground and Leaves in Your Compost Pile

The above tips and tricks will help your compost pile do great in the winter and make use of adding leaves and coffee. But why are leaves and coffee so important to your compost during this time of the year? Let’s learn the answer to this question!

coffee grounds for compost
Image Credit: jokevanderleij8, Pixabay


Compost piles need balance. If you’re a composter, you have most likely heard people talking about green and brown materials. Leaves happen to be one of the brown materials you hear about. Brown materials are organic materials that offer a significant amount of carbon to your compost pile. Wood materials, branches, and especially leaves help balance a compost pile and help make the process of composting materials balance and work well.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are on the opposite spectrum of composting as part of the green materials. These materials work the same as plant matter. This is why people who compost love adding lawn clippings to their piles during the summer. When you can’t add tons of these green materials during the winter, coffee grounds are the ideal way to ensure green material is making its way into your compost bin without taking up too much space.


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As you can see, coffee grounds and leaves are a crucial part of any compost pile. During the winter, these two components become even more important. If you want to stay on top of composting leaves and coffee grounds in the winter, these tips above can keep your bin successful. Put them to good use and see your compost flourish even when it’s cold outside.

Featured Image Credit By: stockphotofan1, Shutterstock


Melissa Gunter

Melissa has been a fan of coffee since the first sip she stole from her Granny's cup when she was just a girl. Now, she spends each morning writing with a hot cup of coffee at her side. With a love of sweet and creamy bliss, Melissa and her daughter, Amber, stop by and try out every local coffee shop they see. Neither are afraid to try something new and have a long list of favorite coffee beverages they simply can't do without. When she's not freelance writing about her 2 passions, coffee, and pets, Melissa spends her time with her husband, 2 kids, and 5 fur babies. She also loves diving into the fiction world under her pen name, Rena Marin. If she isn't at the laptop or with the family, Melissa is out enjoying the mountains of East Tennessee she calls home.

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