Free compost and mulch at the Dickinson Recycling Center

Everyone loves superfoods, and compost is like a superfood for your garden.

Food scraps and yard waste together make up about 30 percent of what we throw away, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and instead they can be composted.

Composting leaves and grass clippings is exactly what the Dickinson Recycling Center in Milford does.

Leaves and grass clippings are made into wind rows, and then it is mixed with some finished compost. That sits for a few months and is turned periodically with water to help it break down. That final compost is then moved to another pile and sifted into fine granules to make sure any inorganic material is removed before customers take it home.

compost being sifted

“We want to have it as a service to the people of Dickinson County, and we have a lot of it and want it to be used,” said manager Charles Vigdal. “It’s the best for gardens because it is very organic, nutrient-rich and has a large carrying capacity for water, so it can hold a lot of water, which is what plants need.”

The Dickinson Recycling Center also turns tree stumps and branches into useful mulch by chipping it.

“This mulch is basically the trees ground up, so there are no dyes or chemicals,” Vigdal said. “The color is pretty uniform and looks like old wood. It’s great for around new tree plantings.”

Allowing people to take the compost and mulch at no charge is a service the Dickinson Recycling Center offers to the community and is an outlet for the green waste brought to the center. Anyone can pick up mulch or compost free of charge. Simply bring a shovel, containers and someone willing to do the labor of loading it up.

“We do have a lot of residents and some businesses use it in their yards, landscaping, gardens and potted plants,” Vigdal said. “We can get you as much as you like, but with bigger quantities there is a loading fee.”

If you would like help loading from staff, each wheel loader bucket — approximately 3-3.5 cubic yards —  is $10.

For those working on the opposite side of the landscaping spectrum, who are clearing green waste instead of bringing in compost and mulch, the Dickinson Recycling Center fees are as follows for Dickinson County residents: $0.50 per bag, $10 for a one-axle trailer, $20 for a two-axle trailer, $10 per pickup load, $20 for a single-axle truck, $30 for a double-axle truck or $60 for a roll off or side dump trailer.

The Dickinson Recycling Center also takes a variety of other materials, including electronics, tires, appliances, scrap metal and household hazardous materials. For disposal fees, visit or call 712-338-2549.

The Dickinson Recycling Center is located at 2260 220th St., Milford, and is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.