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5 Ways to Keep Animals Out of Your Compost

Pesky animals getting into your compost bin? Don’t stress! Discover five ways to keep unwanted pests out of your compost for good.
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Composting is a great and easy way to nourish your garden, practically for free! It not only helps the environment and cuts down on waste, but it also provides essential nutrients to your garden soil and plants. But, nothing is worse than starting a compost pile only to attract a few unwanted visitors. Compost piles entice animals through smell, location, and sometimes even convenience.

If you are noticing animals around your compost, don’t stress. There are a few things you can do to deter pesky critters from accessing it. Read on and discover five ways to keep animals out of your compost.

1. Choose the Right Location for Your Compost

One of the best ways to deter pests out from your compost pile is to place it in the right location in your backyard. If you’re having an issue with animals getting into your bin, it’s most likely because they see it as an easy way to access food, or other food sources are attracting them.

Compost bins should be kept in an open area that is away from any food sources. This includes bird feeders, outdoor pet bowls, garbage and recycling bins, fruit trees, and any plants that produce fruit. Placing your bin in an open space also ensures there is proper airflow and circulation for your compost pile. Remove anything that is around your compost, including wood or brush piles, to prevent animals from burrowing or making a bed nearby.

2. Use a Covered Compost Bin

Opt for a compost bin that is covered and has a sturdy lid that is tight-fitting, so animals cannot access it. You can buy a closed bin at most gardening centers or hardware stores. Typically, these bins are already animal-proof and ready to use.

If you already have a bin set up, attach a lid by using a piece of wood, a few hinges, and a latch, so it can securely close. If you are not as handy, just place a piece of wood on top and use several heavy rocks or bricks to hold it down. Place large rocks or bricks around the compost bin as well, covering the bottom edges of the bin. This prevents any animals from burrowing underground to get into your compost pile.

3. Use Hardware Cloth

Try using hardware cloth to keep animals away from your compost pile. Hardware cloth is a wire mesh that is woven together and is usually made of galvanized steel. It is available for purchase at most hardware stores.

Use a piece of cloth that is ¼ inch thick to deter small rodents such as mice, rats, or squirrels. For larger animals like raccoons, possums, or skunks, use a cloth that is ½ inch thick. Line the walls and place a large piece of cloth on the bottom of your compost bin. Make sure the piece is larger than the size of the bin and extends outwards. Place your bin on top of the hardware cloth to stop any burrowing animals.

4. Avoid Adding Meat, Fish, or Dairy Products
Person holding soil beside organic compost

While you can add food scraps into your compost pile, avoid adding any meat, fish, bones, or dairy products. Also, avoid tossing in food scraps or leftovers that contain high amounts of oils and seasonings. These food items will attract animals by their strong, pungent smell, along with causing dangerous bacteria to form as well.

Instead, you can safely add food like fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, and eggshells. When adding these items to your compost, bury the scraps by digging a hole in the center of the pile. Cover with a thick layer of brown materials like dry leaves, plant clippings, straw, or brown paper bags and cardboard. Doing so helps to mask any smells that animals may be drawn to.

5. Turn Compost Pile Regularly

Another key component to keeping animals out of your compost is to turn the pile regularly, about once a week. Sometimes, animals see compost as more than just a food source, but also a place to live or sleep. Turning the pile often adds air to your compost, which allows it to break down and decompose properly. It also speeds up decomposition and creates a moist environment that animals will dislike. Once you are done turning the pile, always add a new layer of brown materials on top.

Keep Those Critters Away

Keep critters out of your compost bin once and for all! The most important thing to remember is to store your compost bin in an open space and keep it secured with a lid. Turn your pile regularly and avoid adding any items that will tempt animals to visit your backyard space.

Are you having a problem with animals in your compost bin? What are you doing to prevent it? Leave a comment down below and share your experience.

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