Compost from the Trail Waste Facility

August 17, 2007

Last weekend I went to the Trail Road Waste Facility to pick up some compost.

I wasn’t sure what the deal was for bagging your own compost so I decided to bring some blue box recycling bins, some double-bagged paper and a plastic lawn and leaf bags, a tarp, a long-handled shovel, some gloves and water.

I headed out to the facility at 4475 Trail Road and at one point I could tell I was getting close. Those long piles on the left side are called “windrows” and are made up of leaves and yard waste that have been shredded by a grinder. The windrows are turned by large machines to let in air and watered regularly to encourage aerobic decomposition. Turning leaves and yard waste into nice compost takes about eight months.

Here’s the sign with all the prices at the front entrance:

The flat rate for a car load of compost under 250 kg is $8.00 CDN. Before you can start filling up your bins you have to go to the Scale House and drive on to a big weigh scale to have your car weighed without any compost. Here’s a shot of a garbage truck on the entrance scale, one of the approximately 156 vehicles that arrive at the Trail Waste Facility every day:

I was told to head over to the small compost pile:

It was pretty stinky around there. You could see the Waste Disposal Area just up the hill. There were A LOT of seagulls and flies! There were many dump trucks driving by too.

I started filling up my recycling bins. I found out that one recycling bin filled with compost weighs about 50 – 60 pounds. My bins didn’t hold as much as I have fancy stackable bins.

I was barely making a dent in the pile as I worked:

I laid down a tarp and started to load the bags and bins into my car. I figured out that some of the paper bags were about 60 kg each or 130 pounds:

I drove over to the Scale House and drove onto the exit scale. The scale clerk printed off a weigh scale receipt with the following information: date, entry and departure time, my license plate number and the tare, gross and net weights. It took me 40 minutes to bag 275 kg of compost for a total fee of $8.00 CDN. That was pretty awesome! I carefully drove home hoping that I wouldn’t break an axle. I lugged it out of the car and looked at my prize – 4 bags and 3 bins of compost:

I went back two more times and netted 540 kg of compost in 12 bags. I now have 820 kg of compost, almost 1 ton, for $24 CDN.

I wasn’t really sure how people used this material or if it needed to be amended with anything. I asked around a bit and found out that there was a lot of lamb’s-quarters (pigweed) in it. I called the City of Ottawa to find out if there was any more information on the quality of the compost I had picked up. I found out that there are lab analysis results that you can get from the Main Administration building. I’ll post more about that once I pick up a copy. He suggested that for creating a new bed I should mix some sand/earth/clay into it to help the compost hold water. I asked if there were any weed seeds in it and he gave a hearty “Yes!” as a response. He said that there were none from when the compost was going through the five stages of the heating process, however, it would definitely contain any airborne seeds that landed on the compost since last fall.

I’m pretty excited about this project and have finally decided on a method of creating my new flower beds: sheet mulching. More on this project as it gets started this weekend.

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4 Responses to “Compost from the Trail Waste Facility”


  1. What a great resource you have there. I don’t think we have anything like that, available here, but I’ll sure check. And thanks for the link about sheet mulching. I’ve been doing something similar, but was leaving out a step or two. This will be great for making new beds. I’ll be checking back for your progress reports, Kathy. I love the way you document every step!

  2. Ax Says:

    Why didn’t you just take your blue truck??

    That sounds like a really good deal. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Kathy Says:

    Thanks Jackie!

    Ax, that poor old blue truck is only allowed to go 20 km from its home as per its owner. I would have loved to have taken it to the facility but it’s just too old and might have broken down if used too hard.


  4. […] contents of this product is almost the same as the Trail Waste Facility compost that I got last year however this one was in a convenient pellet-form, making it easier to spread on your lawn with a […]


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