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Composting and Soil Health

Healthy plants require healthy soil. Composting is an easy, Earth-friendly way to transform food scraps and yard waste into free, nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Soil testing is available to test for both nutrient content and for contaminants such as lead and arsenic.

How the City Supports Composting and Soil Health

2017 Community Garden Compost ProgramClean City Minneapolis Logo

Through the 2017 Community Garden Compost Program, Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling is offering low-cost or no-cost compost to registered community gardens. Compost is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. However, community gardens that have never received compost, have poor soil quality, or are start-up gardens will get priority.

Compost Requests and Deliveries

Qualifying community gardens may request one delivery of up to 10 cubic yards of compost. One cubic yard of compost will be approximately 3 feet wide by 3 feet high by 3 feet deep when delivered. A single cubic yard of compost is enough to fill the bed of a small pickup truck. The amount of compost and the number of compost deliveries are limited, and not guaranteed.

Residential organics collectionOrganics Recycling Logo

Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling customers now have more organics recycling options. Organic waste can now be picked up alongside your trash and recycling. To sign up, email swrcustomer@minneapolismn.gov or call 612-673-2917. For more information, read the Frequently Asked Questions about organics recycling.

Residential Organic Drop-Off program

The City of Minneapolis is partnering with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and neighborhood groups to offer a Residential Organic Drop-Off program in several locations throughout the city. For more information about this program, including items that can and cannot be composted, visit the Division of Solid Waste and Recycling website.

Order a compost bin or rain barrel, pick it up at a spring distribution event

Get a jump-start on gardening by ordering a $64 compost bin or an $84 rain barrel for your home. (These regularly cost $105 and $139!) The Recycling Association of Minnesota holds annual spring sales and distribution events for rain barrels and compost bins. To find more information, go to www.recycleminnesota.org.

Compost at home

Minneapolis Residents can compost at home as well and the City has updated rules to make it easier than ever. Just keep in mind a few things:

  1. Compost should be contained within a container that is enclosed on all vertical sides and built with durable material in a structurally sound manner. While most organic matter is compostable, some materials are prohibited due to public health risks and the potential to create nuisance conditions (pest infestation and/or odor issues).
  2. The maximum size allowed for a compost area depends on the size of your lot.

The location on the property is also important. Compost is not allowed in the front or side yards. It also must be 20 feet away from any building not on the property and have a 1 foot butter from the rear property line. See the illustrations below.

For a full list of composting rules and regulations, including where it is allowed within a lot, please visit Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, Title 12, Chapter 244, Article VII, 244.770. - Composting.

Composting with House

Composting without House under 10,000

Composting without House over 10,000

Additional Resources

Backyard Composting Guide, City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling

Soil Testing, University of Minnesota

Zero-Waste Composting Report, Eureka Recycling

Soils and Composting, University of Minnesota Extension

Urban Gardens and Soil Contaminants - A Gardener's Guide to Healthy Soil

Lead in the Home Garden and Urban Soil Environment, University of Minnesota Extension

An Experimental Assessment of the Benefits and Costs of Compost Use in Urban Agriculture, University of St. Thomas 

Minnesota Composting Council

Last updated Mar 27, 2017

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