Should You Pee On Your Compost? Urine in the Garden: Beneficial or Not

Pee is good, right? It contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, and some B vitamins. But, should you use urine in your garden?

A white toilet filled with marigolds.

My family puts up with some very odd requests from me, but this one takes the cake. I’ll be honest, my boys were happy to oblige. They are not often granted permission to pee outdoors since we live in a fairly populated area. The daughter was a harder sell. I don’t think I’ve won her over yet. It’s okay though because every drop helps.

Why do I want them to pee in the compost?

According to an article by National Geographic, scientists believe they can turn human urine into liquid gold for gardens. It’s rich in nitrogen and it’s, of course, free. As someone who is both thrifty and chemical-conscientious, peeing in the compost seems like a winner to me. As a pregnant woman, I am happy to make contributions to the garden 20+ times a day. What is amazing is that researchers calculate that each individual produces enough urine to fertilize enough vegetable plants for one person. How cool is that?!

A compost bin filled with leaves, lawn clippings, food scraps, and urine.

The Effects of Urine on Compost & Gardens

In addition to the obvious nitrogen, human urine also contains phosphorus and potassium, which are essential for plant health. If you include wood ash in your compost, you’ve replicated most commercial fertilizers without the harmful chemicals. A study done with beets showed that beets fertilized with straight urine were 10% larger than unfertilized beets, and beets fertilized with urine and wood ash were 27% larger. A blind taste test was performed (after a good cleaning) and the beets were described as very flavorful.

Basil test showing unfertilized on the right and fertilized with urine on the left.
Reuse of urine collected at an office in Germany with urine-separation toilets. The left plants are not fertilized, while the right plants are fertilized with urine. The fertilized plants are stronger, taller, and have a stronger green color of the leaves. The bottle contains the collected and stored urine. In order to see the effect of urine fertilization more clearly, we used very nutrient-poor soil: it is a 20/80 mixture of sand and of clay granules (to hold moisture).

The pictures were taken on 07.05.2009 by P. Feiereisen

When added to the compost bin, undiluted human urine reduces the time it takes for carbons to break down and increases the nutrient values in the completed compost. To add pee right to your garden, instead of to your compost bin, be sure to dilute to a 10:1 ratio. Urine can be collected in mason jars, or if you are coordinated (or male) you can pee straight into the compost heap. It makes an amazing organic amendment for healthy soil that can help you repair damaged soil.

Where do composting toilets come into play?

There are a few great things about having a composting toilet. Firstly, they save you a huge amount of water every year and they’re much better for the environment. The other great benefit is that after a few weeks or months you get a rich top-soil-like humus product that you can use in a variety of different ways.

We don’t have a composting toilet as our primary bathroom option, but during the Well Fiasco of 2020, I converted our attached privy into a composting toilet. For seven months, it WAS our only bathroom option. I kept it after our well was restored and it’s a great option for when we’re working outside and don’t want to track through the house. It’s also handy during power outages that last more than a few hours.

When you’re working with compost from a composting toilet it’s recommended that you use disposable gloves and wear a dust mask. Even though the waste in the composting toilet has been going through aerobic respiration and any nasties will have been killed off, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution as you’re still going to be handling bacteria, actinobacteria, fungi, and molds.

Organic composting toilet outhouse.

Below are some ways you can utilize the human waste from your composting toilet.

Add it to an established compost pile

Many people like to add the waste from their composting toilets to an already-established compost pile to continue the composting process with some additional organic waste like leaves, lawn clippings, and food scraps. If this is the case, when the compost has broken down sufficiently and looks like topsoil, you can use it on your plants.

Use it around fruit trees

Spreading compost from a composting toilet around the base of your fruit trees is a great way to get additional nutrients into the surrounding soil.

Spread it on your lawn

Spreading well-broken-down compost on your lawn and then watering it will have your lawn looking green and full in no time.

Know Your Pee: Is your urine safe?

Although sterile, urine can pose some minor risks, so it’s essential to know where your pee is coming from. Certain medications can be found in trace amounts in the urine. Most researchers agree that the effects are so minimal as to be inconsequential, but I’d err on the side of caution and collect pee from those you know and love.

A blue mason jar next to a metal wash bin.

Is male or female urine better for plants?

According to studies by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemicals, there were no significant differences in male and female urine when it came to utilizing urine as a fertilizer.

Poop Versus Pee as a Fertilizer

Urine Separation: Closing the Nutrient Cycle, an exhaustive Swedish study on using urine as a fertilizer, compares the pros and cons of using human manure and urine to help grow crops. According to the study, urine contains many of the chemical elements plants need, but human solid waste has the majority of the organic material such as carbon, fiber, and beneficial microorganisms.

At this time, human manure is much more likely to become fertilizer in the United States. Despite current regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), almost 50% of human biosolids return to farmland.

Some Bathroom Reading Material (I couldn’t help myself)

If you’re interested in learning about using urine in your garden, here is some great reading for you. 

Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants by Carol Steinfeld
Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan and Ruby Blume
The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities by Peter Ladner
Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition by Jeff Lowenfels
The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach by Ben Falk

Join the peecycling revolution and add urine to your compost bin. Learn what other things you can and cannot compost on your homestead. Your vegetable gardens will thank you for it.

A pinterest-friendly graphic promoting urine in compost bins and the garden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

32 Comments

  1. Nano-Carbon Bio-Stimulant says:

    Makes sense! Thank you for sharing.

  2. A plastic gallon windshield wash bottle works great for a man. (A gallon vinegar bottle is almost as good) Store it under the bathroom toilet tank. It’s the right height to use if you set it on the toilet bowl lid. I fill 3 of these before dumping on the compost pile. If the odor offends in the bathroom, add a bit of vinegar. In the summer, I store filled bottles in the garage. In the winter, I store in the basement ( it can freeze in the garage). It’s easy and it saves water and fertilizer. I feel guilty when I forget to use the bottle and revert to my old ways.

  3. Janet Dolan says:

    I have 2 acre garden in the United States that employs the homeless and helps them re-establish their lives. I am much older than the people I see here, but I have always been an alternative thinker. I think peeing in the compost pile will be a fun exercise for my homeless friends. It will give them a new purpose and perspective on peeing outside.

    1. Thank you for your humorous post . It’s great to see common sense meeting the science .
      First I’ve noted that my dogs urine was burning the grass only to have it come back stronger and greener after good dozen of rains . Just like a ( organic )fertilizer only too concentrated .
      Than I watched a video about this old and famous eco biologist ( can’t find the link now) where he revealed how our entire planet mass desertification can be stoped and reversed by roaming herds of livestock and predators , free to munch and excrete like thousands years back.
      Simple genius of God’s creation , isn’t it ?
      I now have a small backyard garden that needs help . “That’s gonna be fun , kids “ ???

  4. I live in the UK and have quite a small garden. The summer before last I dug and hole in the garden and spent all winter filling it with household kitchen waste, newspapers, cardboard and layers of soil (to keep the smell down). During this time I frequently urinated into the hole. In the spring I planted tomatoes. After a good crop I dug out the hole and what I found astounded me, it was the most amazing compost I’d ever seen – it was beautiful. So I thought maybe urine is good so each day I have urinated into a bucket and watered it down 20 or 30 to 1 and then throw it on the lawn. Although we are now into the autumn the lawn has never looked so healthy. Suffice to say I am now filling an even deeper hole in the garden and yes, it getting a healthy dose of urine.

  5. I have begun using gdiaper inserts and want to compost the pee pee ones (website claim C2C and biodegradable), have your tried anything like this?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      They had just come out when my youngest was born. I thought they were a really cool idea, but baby’s bum was too sensitive for them. I don’t think I did compost them when I tried them, but I’d probably be willing to give it a try (you know, if I still had a baby in diaper).

  6. I used pee last year on my hay bails to break them down, I kept check on the temp for 12 days and it worked

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’m glad it worked so well for you. Certainly cheaper than store bought fertilizers and compost activators.

  7. Roch Joly says:

    ive heard of peeing around the garden to ward off the critters but this is new to me ,,learn something new everyday

  8. Chris A Marcus says:

    I already pee in the back yard frequently. I just have to change the location. Also every time I do not have to flush a toilet. Yeehah saves on the water bill and the carbon footprint.

  9. Grayshephard says:

    Great Article. Peeing in the garden also deters moles.

  10. jack burton says:

    I save the leaves from dozens of trees each fall and pile them into a bin. I save my urine in the garage all winter and add it to the pile in spring. Each day I add a bit to it. Come each fall again I have the best, richest compost you can imagine… all for free.

  11. Anytime I am in my greenhouse in which I use fish to provide fertilizer for my plants, I pee in the fish tank. Why do you think they call it aq-pee-ponics?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Well that’s a great method. I’m not sure *I* have the coordination for that, but I applaud you for doing so.

  12. I suggest reading “The Humanure Handbook”. A great read that opened my eyes.

  13. Good reason to throw a kegger party, everyone line up to pee in the compost!

  14. Ricki @ The Questionable Homesteader says:

    Oh this is great and definitely something I’m going to have to remember. I’m thinking my urine would not be acceptable as I take several medications to deal with medical issues, but I might be able to convince my very healthy nephews…. it is after all for the good of the garden 😉
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Can you do this with worm composting?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I haven’t tried it. I’m thinking I’d abstain from adding undiluted urine to your worm bin.

      1. no, it isn’t good to pee on your worm bed. If you do second stage composting (removing the worms and further composting) you could pee on that pile with benefits.

  16. Mike the Gardener says:

    Great, now all my friends will feel they are “contributing” to my compost when we sit around the outdoor fire and drink a few beers 🙂

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’m so happy I could help Mike Lol.

  17. Fawn DeMurl Carriker says:

    My son-in-law’s buddies tend to pee in the far corner of the backyard (at night) instead of coming into the house to use the toilet. It has always driven me crazy! I’m not sure whether I can convince them to pee in the compost pile on the other side of the garden or not, but I’ll think about it! Either way, this gave me a giggle! – Fawn

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Maybe a men’s restroom sign will guide them that way 😉

  18. Angi @ SchneiderPeeps says:

    Love it! I don’t think my teenage boys wills do it but maybe my grandson 😉

  19. Great article! I’ve read about urine collection and the breakdown of ammonia to nitrates for gardening & fertilizer, but have never made the connection to just pee in the compost. All this time I’ve been peeing in the yard, I now have a mission and purpose for my urine! I love it, thank you!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’m so glad I’ve given your urine proper direction LOL!

  20. Mike @ Gentleman Homestead says:

    I always say that getting caught urinating on compost is Decent Exposure.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Love it! And it’s great hearing from you stranger 🙂

  21. You’re so blessed! My son refuses to pee outside unless he’s bursting and we’re in the middle of nowhere. He’s not much of an outdoor personality and value his modesty – type 2 energy/blue on the color code thing. Anyway, may you enjoy great success with them demonstrating their love for you and their garden! 🙂

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Yeah, my boys could use a bit more modesty in their lives. My older boy needs to be reminded to face away from the street and my toddler is a practicing nudest.