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Should You Put Weeds In A Compost Pile?

There is certainly a lot of debate on the pros and cons of putting weeds in a compost pile.

On one side, many will tell you that placing weeds in a pile is simply asking for trouble. And by doing so, you risk creating a finished product that will sprout weeds everywhere you use it.

weeds in the garden
Gardens and flowerbeds can produce a lot of weeds in a single season. But can they be tossed in the compost pile, or should they be thrown away?

But there are also many who think weeds are extremely beneficial to a pile. And that composting them not only allows you to make more compost, but a compost that is more balanced and nutrient filled.

So who is right – and who is wrong?

Well, as with nearly all debatable questions, the real answer lies somewhere in the middle. And with today’s article, we hope to provide a few solid answers to the question.

Putting Weeds In A Compost Pile

Is A Weed Really A Weed?

When it comes to plants, it’s important to first realize that the term “weed” is a relative term. It’s much like the old saying of one person’s junk is another person’s treasure.

dandelion salad
Some consider the dandelion to be a weed, others a delicious addition to a salad!

To some, dandelions are a weed. But to others, they are an incredible pollinator plant, attracting bees, butterflies and more. And to still others, they are a tasty food source as well.

So does that mean this “weed” can go in a compost pile?

And then there is clover. To many homeowners trying to keep an immaculate turf yard, clover is a weed. But clover as a plant can actually be extremely beneficial on so many levels.

clover growing - weeds in a compost pile
Clover is often considered a weed, but it is filled with nutrients. Nutrients that when broken down into the soil can power plants.

Not only does it feed important pollinators like bees, it also fixes nitrogen levels in the soil so other plants grow better. In fact, it works so well in providing nutrients it grows in many gardens as a fall or spring cover crop!

The point is, all green living plants are teeming with nutrients. And because of that, weeds can be extremely valuable as they live, or as they decompose in a compost pile. And in exactly the same way “non-weed” plant materials are. (Product Link : The Complete Guide To Edible Wild Plants)

compost - organic fertilizer
All plant life eventually breaks down into compost – even weeds!

That is, of course, as long as you are using a bit of caution when adding them to your pile!

When And How To Use Weeds To A Compost Pile

Even though weeds are a great addition to a compost pile, there are a few risks. But luckily, eliminating the risks can be fairly easy with a few simple steps. (See: 5 Things You Should Never Put In Your Compost Pile)

As with any plant materials going into a pile (i.e flowers, vegetables etc.), always be sure to not include the seed heads of weeds into the mix.

dandelion seeds - weeds in a compost pile
Add this dandelion weed seed head to your compost pile, and you will likely be spreading the seed wherever you use your compost.

Why is this? Unfortunately, most backyard compost piles simply don’t heat up enough to kill the seeds of any plant. And because of that, seeds can easily be carried and sprout to wherever you use your fresh compost.

Weeds In A Compost Pile – Additional Plants To Avoid

In addition to keeping seed heads out, plants that reproduce from their roots should be avoided as well. A great example of this is Canadian thistle.

Canadian thistle can be a nightmare to eradicate from flowerbeds and gardens. Its long, tenacious roots can produce hundreds of runners and buds to create a seemingly endless supply of new plants.

But beyond those few precautions, there is little worry when adding weed greens to your pile! Not only is it a great way to create more compost, but it finally gives all of those “weeds” a purpose in your landscape!

This Is My Garden is a website dedicated to spreading the love and knowledge of gardening around the world. We publish two new garden articles each week. This article may contain affiliate links.