This will look untidy during the winter, but it's good for wildlife, which will shelter under it, and will soon be covered up by the fresh growth in the spring.
Autumn leaves and shredded woody material also make excellent mulches, and don't really need to be processed through a compost heap. You may be told that these low-nutrient materials will "rob" your soil of nitrogen, and so they will - but only if you dig them in. Apply them as a mulch and this problem disappears.
You may also read that freshly shredded, woody prunings will release toxic chemicals that will harm your plants, but there is little or no evidence for this. The main problem is that freshly
Spring growth soon covers up the evidence of old shoots cut down after last year.
shredded material doesn't look very nice, but it soon ages and blends in. If this bothers you, just leave the fresh material in a heap to age for a month or so. Not much decomposition will happen during this time, but the material will look a lot better.
Downsizing your lawn or making a new vegetable plot? Skim off the old turf with a spade and stack it, grass-side down, for at least a year. It should rot down into a nice, crumbly loam which you can then use as a mulch or to top-dress the lawn.
That leaves kitchen waste. One option is a wormery (see pages 140-145) but, if you have a vegetable plot, there are others. A small compost bin could be incorporated into the crop-rotation cycle in a vegetable plot (see page 133), but if you want to do this, why bother with a bin at all?
The usual objections to open compost heaps are that they aren't very attractive and that many of the nutrients are leached away into the soil, but
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