How to Compost Without a Yard

How to Compost Without a Yard

Composting is a great way to reduce food waste and create nutrient-rich soil, even if you don’t have access to a backyard. With a little creativity, anyone can compost, regardless of living situation. Here’s how to compost without a yard.

Choosing a Composting System

The first step is selecting an appropriate composting system for your space. Here are some top options for yard-less composting:


Vermicomposting uses red wiggler worms to break down food scraps. It’s done in bins indoors or on balconies/patios. Vermicomposting is compact and easy to maintain. It’s a great choice for urban composters with limited space.

Bokashi composting

Bokashi involves fermenting food waste to pre-digest it before burying or adding it to a regular compost pile. It requires very little space and can be done under a kitchen sink or in any corner. Bokashi is especially suitable for apartments and condos.

Electric composters

Electric or indoor composters are self-contained units that speed up decomposition using heat and continuous airflow. They’re suitable for indoor use but require a power source. Electric composters take up minimal space and contain odors.

Balcony/patio composting

You can compost on a balcony or patio using a freestanding compost bin or even a simple trash can with drainage holes. This takes more effort but is doable in small outdoor spaces if allowed by your building.

Choosing a Location

When composting without a yard, location is key. Here are some factors to consider:

  • If doing outdoor composting on a balcony or patio, make sure it’s allowed by your building before starting.

  • The compost area should get some sun daily, even if indirect light. Full shade will dramatically slow the process.

  • Verify the spot stays reasonably cool in summer. Compost piles can overheat in enclosed hot spaces.

  • Consider potential smell and pest issues for the location. Compost must be actively managed to prevent problems.

  • Check if there’s access to water nearby to moisten the compost when needed.

  • Make sure there is enough room for your compost bin or pile, while allowing you to easily turn and access the compost.

Preventing Odors and Pests

When composting in close quarters, odor and pest control is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Balance inputs by adding a mix of “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials like food scraps) and “browns” (carbon-rich materials like leaves, cardboard).

  • Turn and aerate the pile weekly to encourage beneficial bacteria.

  • Monitor moisture levels – compost should be damp but not soggy.

  • Grind or chop food scraps before adding them to break down faster.

  • Add browns like dry leaves or newspaper to absorb excess moisture and odors.

  • Try a sealed bin like a Tumblr composter to contain odors.

  • Use a bin with a lid to keep out pests. Rodents can squeeze through small gaps.

  • Do not compost meats, oils or animal products, which can attract pests and cause odors.

Tips for Small-Space Composting

Here are some final tips for successful composting without a yard:

  • Start with a small pile or bin – large volumes aren’t needed for indoor systems.

  • Layer greens and browns as they become available rather than all at once.

  • Consider what you’ll do with finished compost if you don’t have garden space – share with friends? Donate to a community garden?

  • Monitor your bin frequently and troubleshoot any issues with odors, pests or insufficient decomposition.

  • Be patient – composting without a yard happens more slowly. But it’s a rewarding way to reduce waste!

With the right system and a little trial and error, you can compost just about anywhere. Don’t let lack of yard space deter you from this eco-friendly habit. Composting helps divert waste from landfills and enriches the soil – something anyone can take part in.