man pouring compost into compost bin
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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7. Clean Up the Compost

Why Now: That heap out back is sprawling out of control, and in addition to hosting the grubs and worms that turned your fall leaves into black gardening gold, it likely housed nesting animals over the cold months. Better to corral and critter-proof the compost now before adding any fresh organic material.

How To Do It: Prefab bins can be pricey, but you can make your own for just about $60. Simply build an open, box-shaped frame out of scrap 1×2 boards or old fence slats and line the walls, floor, and top with 1/4-inch galvanized hardware cloth. The metal cloth is chew-proof, and unlike solid wood or plastic panels, it allows air to circulate through the compost to speed decomposition. Hinge the top and one side of the bin for easy access.

The Payoff: A tidier yard, never finding a furry surprise when you mix the compost, plus pocketing about $25 to $150 by making a bin yourself.
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