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Backyard Composting


To set up a backyard composter, you need to create a system that's right for you.

The City of Yellowknife sells Earth Machine backyard composters at the Solid Waste Facility gatehouse for $35 each.

There are also other types of backyard composters you can build yourself such as composters made from old pallets, rotating bins or covered 'heap' style composters.

What can I compost?

Composting is like cooking - it helps to add ingredients in the right proportions. In backyard composting, the goal is to add roughly equal proportions of 'greens' (materials that are high in nitrogen) and 'browns' (materials that are high in carbon).

items that can be composted

To collect the kitchen scraps, you can use an old margarine/ice cream container or you can purchase a 'kitchen catcher' bin from a local hardware store. To avoid having food scraps stick to the bottom of your kitchen container, you can line your container with newspaper. When the container is full, throw it in your backyard composter.

How to Set Up Your Backyard Composter

  1. Choose a convenient, level, well-drained and sunny area on soil in your yard for your composter. Make sure it is convenient to reach during the winter.
  2. Make a compost bin or buy a ready-made bin and set it up. The bin should be approximately 1 cubic metre in size. A lid or cover helps keep ravens and animals out.
  3. Put down a layer of 'browns' such as dry leaves or shredded paper in the bottom of your composter.
  4. Add a layer of 'greens' such as kitchen scraps and yard trimmings.
  5. Keep adding greens and browns in roughly equal proportions, in alternating layers.

Harvesting Finished Compost

In approximately two summer seasons, you should have dark, crumbly soil-like compost at the bottom of your compost bin. You can harvest it by digging it out of the bottom of your composter or by lifting the composter up completely and moving it to another location to expose the heap of compost.

You can use the compost in your potted plants, work a 2.5 cm (1") layer of compost into your garden soil, or apply a 1.5 cm layer on your lawn and rake it in.

For More Information

The following links can provide more information to help you backyard compost:


Hours of Operation

Winter Hours effective following the Labour Day Weekend
until prior to the Victoria Day Weekend (September to May)
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

Summer Hours effective following the Victoria Day Weekend
until prior to the Labour Day Weekend (May to September)
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

Mailing Address & Phone Numbers

Yellowknife City Hall
4807 - 52 Street, P.O. Box 580, Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N4

Switchboard - (867) 920-5600
Mayor/City Manager - (867) 920-5634
Booking Clerk - (867) 669-3457
Municipal Enforcement (MED) - (867) 920-5630
After Hours (MED) - (867) 920-2737
After Hours (Public Works) - (867) 920-5699