Gardening tip: The Sanitation Department will comp your compost

Free compost from the city. Source: BIG!NYC

Free compost from the city. Source: BIG!NYC

Last year we reported that the city will subsidize your home compost bin. What most people don’t know is that the city also runs a massive compost program that diverts thousands of tons of food and yard waste away from landfills. Most of that compost goes to improving city property and community gardens and organizations. But unless you built your own bin, if you’ve wanted to get in on that composting action, you were out of luck. But not now. BIG!NYC points out that the Department of Sanitation will give you free bags of city compost and mulch as long as you use them to beautify public trees lining the street. Those oases of bark and dirt along the sidewalks easily suffer from rainwater runoff, uncurbed dogs, and sheer neglect. With a load of compost and mulch, a weekend afternoon, and a couple of friends, you can finally fix up that shabby patch of dirt outside your apartment — for free!

There are a couple of caveats: you have to pick up the mulch and compost yourself, so you’ll need a car and someone who can lift 40-pound bags. You also need to apply through the DSNY’s website, along with pictures of up to three trees you want to fix up (so no hauling this compost to your home garden). Once approved they’ll send you the info about your nearest pick-up location.

For more info on local composting, check out BIG!NYC and the DSNY Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling. To see a list of where city compost is being put to use in Brooklyn, check out their borough projects page.

A version of this post appeared on QueensNYC earlier today.