Composting is a great way to recycle and reduce waste. The process of composting starts with a good place for it. However, some food scraps don’t often fit well in a compost pile, like large melon rinds or corn kernels. You may be wondering, Should You Cover Compost With Plastic?  Covering the compost or not would depend on many things such as; the region you live in, the kind of composting system you have and, on your goals. 

Should You Cover Compost With Plastic

But, if you are using a manufactured compost container, they would usually comprise a lid and the best would be to make use of it. As I found there are pros and cons of covering the compost pile. Once you cover the compost, it can impede the composting process. And there could also be situations where covering the compost could be beneficial. 

Compost pile would work well , if there is sufficient oxygen and moisture available. Once you seal off the compost pile, it would create an anaerobic environmental condition within the compost pile and cause unwanted issues.

So, from this article I will be addressing the pros and cons of covering the compost pile and the reasons behind these. If you wish to become a compost pro, you can keep reading this article as I have covered all the important details here. 

Why do you need to cover the compost?

Excessive rainfall

There are several reasons as to why you need to cover the compost. First of all, excessive rainfall is a reason as to why you need to cover the compost pile. It is important that you cover the compost pile if there is rain. Considering this situation, what you could do here is place the compost pile under an overhang. If you cannot find an overhang, you need to build a quick lean type cover so that it would divert the rain fall and avoid reaching the compost pile. 

Once you use either a roof or an overhang, it would keep space between outside of the pile and the air which would consequently allow for a proper air flow of oxygen. Further it would allow for a proper processing of the stack as well.

Further once there is a proper air flow within the compost pile, it would allow the excess moisture within the compost pile to evaporate. Furthermore it would help to alleviate too much rain as well. If you wish to drape tarp or plastic right on top of the compost pile, I suggest you remove the cover once every day or once every two days and turn the compost pile so that it would keep oxygen levels inside the pile optimal.

Pests problems

Chances are that animals, flies, birds and other critters may tend to attack your compost pile and feast on them. So, Ideally you need to create a barrier which can stop them invading your compost pile. Having said that, you could only add a three-to-four-inch sized layer which consists of shredded leaves, shredded cardboard on the compost pile exterior to cover them too. In fact that would stop releasing the scent of the food wastage in the compost pile which would attract these pests to the compost pile.

If you have got larger animals such as possums, raccoons, you need to use a wire mesh over the compost pile. Ensure that they comprise of holes which are not big enough for these pests to pull the food remaining in the pile. If you want to keep the compost pile in place, you can use tent stakes or large rocks.

Should You Cover Compost With Plastic

Heat retention

I suggest you cover the compost pile specially during the colder season as it could help to retain the heat level within the compost pile. Ideally you may use a compost layer of leaves over the exterior of the compost pile using tarp on top. Thereafter spread the tarp in the evening as unless they may tend to cool down. Next, remove the cover during the hottest hours of the day as sunrise could contribute to the penetration in the compost pile.

Finished Compost Protection

If you don’t want to use complete compost as soon as you finish making it, I suggest you cover it as unless you may tend to lose the crucial nutrients in it. Ideally you need to move them to a large, lidded plastic bin as that would be the best way of protecting the compost. Further ensure that you leave a gap of six inches so that the top materials in the compost can have a proper air flow. Moreover, it would be useful for the microbes to function within the compost pile as well.

Pros Of Covering Compost

Covering compost would be useful in many aspects. You need to cover the compost to protect it from torrential rainfall. If the rainfall gets in contact with the compost pile., it will even make the ingredients rot as well.

Further, you could safeguard the compost piles from the unwanted pests invading the compost piles by covering them too. further covering the compost pile would be crucial in maintaining the heat in the pile specially during winter. Consequently, it would not impact the decomposing rate as well. In addition to that , it would further secure the compost piles from full sunlight, wind and snow as well.

If the compost pile gets exposed to these, it would result in the nutrients depletion of the compost pile and it is important that you protect the compost pile from those factors. However, when you cover the compost you need to do it in the right ways as only then you can get the best results.

Should You Cover Compost With Plastic

Cons of covering compost 

Once you cover the compost it would contribute to anaerobic conditions in the compost pile. Consequently, it would kill the aerobic bacteria’s functioning in the compost pile. Those are the beneficial microorganisms which can effectively get involved in the composting. When they perish, it would ultimately impact on the overall success of the compost pile.

In addition to that it would trap moisture within the compost pile and lead for the mold growth. Ultimately it would spoil the material there. Furthermore, it would start to release odors which could be so unpleasant to breathe. Chances are that your neighbors may end up complaining to you. Apart from that, the lack of oxygen and too much moisture may halt the heat generation in the compost pile.

Once you cover the compost pile, it would stop rainfall in getting contact with the compost pile. This literally means your compost pile materials may tend to stay dry. Chances are that it would even kill the compost pile by making it too messy.

What do you cover compost with?

There are several things which you could use to cover the compost with. You could find them in various shapes such as in round shape and in rectangular shapes. However the round lids would be somewhat bulky and you may find it difficult to transport them as well. So, best would be to go ahead with rectangle shaped lids. That said you may also find sealed compost bins which you could use for this purpose.

They may also carry some open space and it is very unlikely that they will lay right on top of the materials in the compost bin. Apart from that you could cover the compost by plastic tarps as well.

I suggest you avoid placing soft covers on top of the compost piles and ideally you need to go ahead with hard supported lids. I urge the people who live in extremely wet regions to cover the compost piles as it would be beneficial for the composting process in the compost piles.

Should you cover compost with plastic

You could consider using plastic as a covering for the compost pile. However if you use plastic tarps, best would be to remove the cover once every day or once every two days and turn the compost pile. The purpose of doing this step is to maintain a proper oxygen level in the compost pile.

Should I leave the lid off my compost bin?

Yes you could leave the lid off your compost bin. If you keep the lid of the compost pile as it is, it can badly impact on the moisture condition and on the air flow in the compost pile which could badly impact on the composting process.

That said if you have a complete compost pile, best would be to keep the cover on the pile as it is. If you leave the lid off from the finished compost, it will make the nutrients available in the compost pile depleted. Further if you leave the lid on the compost bin for a longer period, it would create wet conditions in the compost bins.

If you have finished compost piles, you need to keep them covered all the time. Unless, as aforesaid, if you keep them open, it would result in a further breakdown of the materials inside in it. Furthermore it would deplete the nutrients in it as well.

Would a Cover Help Heat Up My Pile in Cold Weather?

To answer the question whether a cover helps heat up your pile in compost weather, yes it does. It would heat up all the wastage and the materials inside it and result in a faster composting process. it would further protect the compost pile from rainfall as unless it would make the compost pile overly wet.

Should You Cover Compost With Plastic

Related questions

What would happen if you left the compost too long?

If you leave the compost for an extended period, you could still use it for any number of years you want given that you provide it sufficient moisture levels Further you need to cover the compost bin and keep it in a dry place as well.

Having said that the more you keep it the more they would break down the materials within the compost pile. Consequently the nutrients would deplete and chances are that they may tend to rot as well. Lastly they may be contaminated with numerous fungus infestations as well.

Is it ok to have mold in your compost?

It is okay to have some mold in your compost and it is a quite natural occurrence and a healthy thing as well. keep in mind that if you spot any mold in your compost it literally means the composting process takes place effectively there. Mold also gets involved in the composting process and contributes to a quite effective one.

Conclusion on Should You Cover Compost With Plastic?

Maintaining a compost pile is a truly satisfying and fulfilling task. You could use it as a way of recycling your household left overs and make it convert to a rich composting material.

Later on, you could provide nourishments for your precious vegetation and for your crops. So, I hope now you are thorough whether you need to cover the compost pile or not. Further if you wish to cover it, trust now you are well aware of the covers you need to use as well. So, follow those tips and use them when you practice composting.

Credit to : navajopa31

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Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Environment and Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. My mission is to help other. You can use this knowledge to enhance your life THE BEST environments you possibly can.

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