Starting a compost pile on top of bermuda grass?

Asked July 30, 2016, 4:12 PM EDT

Hello! I'm a novice home gardener who is ready to pull the trigger on a backyard composting system (one of the big black top-fill kinds). My yard is bermuda grass and I don't want to end up with a compost bin full of bermuda! Is it OK to start an open-bottom compost container on bermuda, or is there a better way? Thanks! Daniel NOrber

Durham County North Carolina compost horticulture

1 Response

This question was answered by a Durham County Extension Master Gardener volunteer.

Thank you for your question.

Congratulations on starting composting! It is a wonderful way to dispose of kitchen scraps as well as help improve your garden soil.

You do not need to worry about setting your compost bin on the Bermuda grass – once you have started to fill up the bin, the grass beneath it will die.

A good introduction to composting from NC State University / NC A&T State University / NC Cooperative Extension is called “Backyard Composting of Yard, Garden, and Food Discards” (content.ces.ncsu.edu/backyard-composting-of-yard-garden-and-food-discards).

A more detailed guide to composting from North Carolina Cooperative Extension is called “Composting : A Guide to Managing Organic Yard Wastes” (content.ces.ncsu.edu/composting-a-guide-to-managing-organic-yard-wastes).

I thought you might enjoy reading this Q&A from a website called “Compost Guide: Tips for Home Composting” (compostguide.com/how-to-choose-a-compost-site/):

Ellen Paulson July 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Hello. My husband was trying to be helpful and sprayed some Round-Up on the area I am going to put my compositor (open on the bottom) to kill the Bermuda/St. Augustine grass it will sit on. I was horrified and now scared to put my compositor in this spot because I fear contamination from the round-up. Is that a valid concern? If so, what do you recommend I do to clean up the area…if it’s possible! Also, how concerned do I have to be to have it sit on grass–was thinking the grass would grow into the compost.
Thanks!

Reply

lars July 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm

@Ellen

I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Roundup is designed to become inert after it hits the soil, unless you are using that “extended” formula that has a different herbicide in it. So if you have waited a couple of days, it should be no problem at all, assuming it’s regular Roundup.

Also, compost can actually be used to remediate contaminated soil, as studied by the EPA.
http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/composting/pubs/analysis.txt

Grass won’t grow into the composter, because it is dark in there and grass likes full sun. You can use a weedeater around the edge of the bin to keep grass from growing tall around it.

Good luck!

Please call or email us if you have other questions.

Phone: (919) 560-0528.

Email: mastergardener@dconc.gov

721 Foster Street, Durham, NC 27701

Nan Len

Durham County Extension Master Gardener volunteer