Composting in South Florida

All you need to know about composting in South Florida

Oftentimes, you may be driving around South Florida and you'll see landscape trucks filled to the brim with dead palm fronds, tree clippings, pulled weeds, and many other products of a day's work in the yard. You may also see these piles sitting out by the curb waiting to be collected by waste management.

We see it all the time and it's become very normal for us. After all, what else are you going to do with all that 'waste'? When you have your yard mowed, your hedges clipped, weeds pulled, trees trimmed, and leaves raked, you have to do something with all of that 'stuff', don't you? You can't just leave it there, can you?

Nature's composting process

Well, let's think about what would happen out in nature. If we sent teams of landscapers into a pristine forest and collected all the fallen leaves, dead branches, decomposing fruits, and all other fallen 'waste', and we brought it out of the forest to the dump, then that forest would surely perish. It may look prettier and 'neater' to our conditioned eyes for a time, yet that forest would starve to death before very long.

We know that, along with plenty of sunshine, plants feed on nutrients in the soil. They gather the nutrients with their roots and use them to create new growth. However, we need to ask ourselves, how do those nutrients get into the soil? How does the soil replenish itself? The answer to these questions lies in heaped piles at the Dade County dump! The decaying matter that falls from the plants at the end of a life cycle decomposes on the ground and the nutrients from that decomposition replenish the soil; making it very fertile.

Composting in South Florida: Leaf Pile

Composting as fertilizer

Of course, when we have a detached experience of the process of nature, we might be conditioned to think that plant food comes in bags and bottles from the gardening store. We assume that manufactured fertilizers are essential to a healthy landscape and that rich potting soil is something that must be purchased at the agriculture shop. The truth is that when we understand, appreciate, and facilitate the natural process of plants, we see that the plants have all the necessary resources to take care of themselves.

Manufactured plant foods and fertilizers are really just a poor quality replacement for the high quality, nutrient-rich plant food that's literally falling into our yards every day. When we gather and remove the clippings and deadfall from our backyards, we're not only taking away the most nutritious and compatible food source from our plants, but as we throw these resources away we're also throwing away all the money we spend on fertilizers, plant foods, soil, etc.

Brent Knoll, Landscape Designer

Composting is clean

The good news is that we CAN have the best of both worlds if we learn to work with nature's process. We can have a neat, clean, tidy yard while still being able to utilize the free food that our plants provide for themselves. We do this when we create a composting system in our own yards. Simply by finding an inconspicuous area behind some hedges or in a hidden corner to pile our debris, we create an inexhaustible source of food for our many plants. When we gather and mix our yard clippings, chipped branches, dead leaves, and food scraps, we watch our soil and plant food being created before our eyes.

Make the most of organic plant matter

Brent encourages his clients to avoid taking anything organic off their property. He knows the value of that organic matter and how much it means to his plant friends in his organic landscapes and gardens. He also realizes that one of the greatest advantages to the copious heat and sunshine of the South Florida climate is how rapidly organic yard waste can decompose to become fertile soil. 

This advantage makes the compost turnover rate surprisingly fast, and leaves little excuse not to have a compost area in every yard. Brent will actually find a suitable space for a compost area in his clients' yards and can even create functional and aesthetically pleasing compost bins when desired. This is his way of being sure that no nutritious future plant food is tragically towed away to the dump.

Organic Veg Grown from Compost

Composting is the way of the future

Thanks to Brent, even when others unknowingly dispose of this nutritious organic plant food, it doesn't necessarily go to waste. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure. When Brent builds his magnificent garden spaces, he's actually using your waste! Brent collects the organic matter that's been sent away by other homeowners and uses it to build massive stores of 'homemade' organic soil. Using his own special composting process, Brent takes truckloads of chipped trees, yard waste, and manure and turns it into some of the most fertile soil in South Florida.

So, now you know how it works, why not 'Keep it in your own yard.' Create a space for a compost pile and collect all that beautiful, nutritious debris. This is a cornerstone of sustainability. Why throw away the resources nature provides, only to use industrial means of manufacturing unnatural and inherently poor quality substitutes that cost you money? Embrace your ecological relationships and utilize the perpetual providence of nature. This natural partnership is essential to our philosophy at Knoll Landscape Design, and facilitating that process for our clients is part of our mission. 

Composting: Raised Bed Garden

Need help with your organic garden?

Need help getting started with your organic garden? Brent has been designing organic gardens in Miami for over 20 years and is ready to help you. Why not schedule an in-person consultation and get your organic garden off the ground! 


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