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What is compost?

Compost is the result of combining biodegradable materials such as yard debris and/or food waste to create soil. Composting requires the teamwork of microorganisms, water, soil, and oxygen. It is also an inexpensive way to dispose of food and yard wastes, while also making fertilizer for gardening, agriculture, and house plants.

Biodegradable material
Material that can be broken down by its environment & microorganisms.
An organism that is small enough to be considered microscopic.
picture of compost material
image of 1 to 4 ratio

What can and can’t you compost?

Composting requires a proper balance of green & brown materials. Green material is nitrogen-rich stuff such as vegetables, fruits, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. Brown material is carbon-rich and includes dry leaves, wood chips, egg shells, and paper. 1 part green material and 4 parts brown materials is the ideal compost concentration. Your compost pile will not be too picky as long as you stick to greens and browns.

Composting: The good, the bad and the ugly

It is helpful to identify what is “compostable” and “not compostable” by keeping a list similar to this one.

If you have a question about a specific item not on the list or internet, feel free to contact (704) 638-2098.

Why is composting important?

Composting is a natural cycle. Instead of throwing away food items and yard wastes that eventually end up in the landfill with material that is not decomposable, collecting compost material allows the material to decompose. In a landfill, food and yard wastes will not decompose because of the lack of oxygen and light. This is a problem because the wastes release greenhouse gases such as methane. Too much methane in the atmosphere can accelerate climate change because of the greenhouse effect. Composting can also save you money. With less wastes in the garbage, you do not have to pay as much to dispose of it.

Breaking down of organic materials.
Greenhouse gases
Gases that absorb and radiate heat in the atmosphere.
A chemical compound that is harmful if released in the atmosphere in large amounts.
Layers of gas surrounding the earth.
Climate change
A change in “normal” climate conditions.
Greenhouse effect
The absorption of heat in the earth’s atmosphere.
The ability for something to function without outside influence.
The ability to maintain at equilibrium.
Image of composting components list
City staff operating earth mover to move large pile of compost City staff operating earth mover to move large pile of compost City staff operating earth mover to move large pile of compost

How is Salisbury involved with compost?

As a Salisbury citizen, you are involved with compost. Salisbury has a fully-operational composting facility on 1955 Grubb Ferry Road that generates mulch for community use. The material consists of wood mulch and leaves collected by the city waste management team from the roadside of your home.

The quality of compost reflects what community members put into pickup bags and containers. To maintain good quality compost, make sure to only dispose of limbs, branches, leaves, and grass. Visit this page for more information on yard waste pickup.


The city’s Public Services department has a free compost giveaway program at its Grants Creek Compost Facility. Regardless of how much compost you need, there are no charges. Salisbury city residents, and people from the surrounding areas, can pick up high-quality compost generated from last year’s curbside yard waste.

Location: 1955 Grubb Ferry Road, Salisbury, NC 28144
Date/Time: Fridays 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
For more information: (704) 638-5260 |
  • Bring your own container or truck. For small containers, it is self-load. For truckloads, City staff will load it for you.
  • Pickup only, no deliveries.
  • There is no limit on the amount of compost you can take.
  • If compost day falls on a holiday, the compost site will be closed.
  • Inclement weather, updates are available on Nextdoor and social media outlets.
picture of compost material
hand holding plant

How can you get involved with your own backyard compost?

Backyard compost is relatively easy to manage when you have a good system. There are a variety of ways to compost depending on the size of your yard and the amount of “compostables” you generate. Selecting your compost bin is an important step because some composting bins process organic materials faster than others.

Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

Feel free to contact Madison Kluge at (704) 638-2098 for any specific questions

Pilot Project: 303 W Franklin

Image of pallets reused as compost bin walls


This compost bin is made from repurposed wooden pallets, which shows that compost systems are versatile.

Image of pallets reused as compost bin walls


Three step compost systems work by providing three locations for different states of decomposition.

Image of pallets reused as compost bin walls


Once compost has completed all three steps, it can be used in the garden!

This is a three step compost system that accepts food and yard wastes. This compost system mostly collects coffee grounds collected from city buildings on W Franklin Street and is maintained by W Franklin Street staff. It is made from repurposed wooden pallets, which shows that compost systems are versatile.

Three step compost systems work by providing three locations for different states of decomposition. Each section represents different levels of compost. The first level is the section that you add new material to, the second level has been biodegrading for a couple of weeks and the third section is the section that is closest to the finished product.

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