Looking for a good deal on mulch and compost? Try the County’s Balls Ford Road Compost Facility. A cubic yard, or about 500 pounds, of mulch is $16 and compost is going at $18 a cubic yard (about 1,100 pounds). County residents drop off of grass and leaves, as well as fruits and vegetable at the facility located at 13000 Balls Ford Road. Dairy products and meat proteins and by products are not suitable for making compost and mulch, said Bernie Osilka, a Prince William County Environmental Compliance Engineer.
Hours for the facility are:
Monday through Saturday
7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Except when the facility is closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day)
Hours on Christmas Eve
7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In nine to 12 months, the waste is processed into compost and ready to spread on lawns, gardens and flower beds. Yard brush that residents bring in is chipped, ground at the facility and processed into mulch in six to nine months.
Osilka said the compost sold at the 30-acre facility is top-notch. The curing process kills any seeds that may have been mixed in with the yard and kitchen waste. As temperatures of the decomposing material rise in the piles standing 20 feet tall and 320 feet long,unwanted seeds are destroyed, keeping the compost free of impurities.
Curing the compost includes turning the piles regularly to make sure everything is exposed to the high temperatures. “If the curing process isn’t done properly, the seeds won’t die,” Osilka said. “That’s why we want a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. We usually test it twice a year using the Penn State laboratory. We have a composting sub-contractor on retainer and he has looked at our results and he says it’s good, quality compost.”
A contractor runs the operation with oversight by County officials who report to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Storm water management ponds control any runoff and the process is completed without additives. “We do not in any way, shape or manner, treat our products with chemicals. They’re all natural,” Osilka said.
On average, 250 people visit the facility daily during the week. Upwards of 1,000 people visit the facility on weekends. The operation produces 30,000 tons of mulch and compost a year, which is enough to meet demand and there’s always raw material coming in, so the facility isn’t likely to ever run out of finished mulch or compost.
In addition to the composting and mulching operations, there are bins available at the site for recycling tires, newspapers, magazines, phonebooks, clothing, used oil and antifreeze, batteries, car batteries and metal. The facility collects hazardous household waste and electronics every second Saturday of the month. “Everything is here. It’s just on a smaller scale than the landfill,” Osilka said.
“This facility is a citizens’ convenience feature. If you live up in this area and you’re from the County, you can bring all of your recyclable material instead of going all the way down to the landfill,” Osilka said.
For more information visit their page here.