Using Sawdust In Your Compost Pile

by Peter on October 27, 2020

You may have heard about using saw dust in your compost pile. Some people are even trying to make their own sawdust from wood chips or other organic materials. There are many benefits of using sawdust in your compost pile such as:

Composting Sawdust With Urea:

There are many reasons why you might want to add sawdust into your compost pile. You could use it as mulch around the edges of your garden beds, or you could mix it with manure and apply it directly to the ground. The most common reason is when you don’t have enough space for a large amount of organic material in your backyard.

If you have a large yard, then you may not need to use sawdust in your compost pile. Hardwood sawdust is more common since it’s so easy to acquire, but you could use pine sawdust if you are growing plants that prefer acidic soil.

There are several other ways that you can use sawdust in your garden without having to create a standard compost pile. One of these methods is by adding it directly into the soil. The main reason for this is because it breaks down slowly and feeds the soil as it does so. This is also a great way to use up smaller pieces of sawdust that would be unsuitable for a standard compost pile.

You can do this with or without manure or other materials.

Another method of using sawdust in your garden is to mix it with some sort of liquid. Traditionally, people would use water, but urine also works well. The methods for mixing these ingredients are as follows:

Water and sawdust – This is the method that is most similar to a standard compost pile. It’s a good idea to shred or grate the wood first, because the finer it is the faster it will break down. You should try not to include any materials that were chemically treated or painted. Let the pile sit for at least a year before using the manure.

Urine and sawdust – This is an excellent way to recycle your urine. Be sure to use enough water to make the pile moist, but not so much that it becomes soggy. This works best in smaller piles that are around a foot high and several feet across. This type of pile will need to be mixed more often than a standard compost pile and should be turned at least once every other week.

In as little as two months, this method can turn wood into fertilizer. (Source)

Sawdust and manure – This requires much less babysitting than the other two methods. Begin by layering equal parts manure and sawdust. For every foot of manure you should use a six inch layer of sawdust. For example, for a one foot high pile of manure, you would use a one foot high pile of sawdust.

Let this mixture sit for a year before using it as fertilizer. (Source)

General Composting Tips:

Aerate the pile – This will help with the decomposition process by giving the oxygen that the microbes need to survive. This can be done in several ways. You can use a pitchfork to turn the pile, a tined garden fork to aerate static piles or even borrow your neighbors dog and let him work off some energy by digging to the center of the pile.

Use shredded material – This will give the microbes and bacteria more surface area to feed on. This is especially important if you are making a static pile that will not be turned.

Keep the pile wet – It is important to keep your pile damp, but not sopping wet. If your pile gets soggy it could begin to smell which will attract unwanted pests.

Turn the pile – Turn the pile at least once every three weeks. This will help to create the air pockets that the microbes and bacteria need to thrive, while keeping the pile mixed evenly.


Sources & references used in this article:

Co‐composting of Municipal Solid Waste with Sawdust: Improving Compost Quality by J Yousefi, H Younesi… – Clean–Soil, Air, Water, 2013 – Wiley Online Library

The art and science of composting by L Cooperband – Center for Integrated agricultural systems, 2002 –

Lignocellulose biodegradation in the biodrying process of sewage sludge and sawdust by KHOW GARDENING – 2014 – Gard

Co-composting of swine mortalities with swine manure and sawdust by HY Zhang, T Krafft, D Gao, GD Zheng, L Cai – Drying Technology, 2018 – Taylor & Francis

Similarity of bacterial communities in sawdust-and straw-amended cow manure composts by SG Won, JY Park, MM Rahman, KH Park… – Compost Science & …, 2016 – Taylor & Francis

Nitrogen transformations and losses during composting of sewage sludge with acidified sawdust in a laboratory reactor by SJ Green, FC Michel, Y Hadar… – FEMS microbiology …, 2004 –

Assessment of co-composting of sewage sludge, woodchips, and sawdust: feedstock quality and design and compilation of computational model by Y Li, W Li – Waste Management & Research, 2015 –


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