Building a Compost Bin

Compost Bin

Building a compost bin is a great way to get started with composting without investing a lot of money in fancy composting equipment. While you can buy composting bins online or in gardening and home improvement stores, you can build one yourself for a fraction of the cost.

How to Make Your Own Compost Bins

There are several options for composting your own organic scraps from inside your home as well as outside it. Purchasing a compost bin can cost between $100 and $500, but you can build one yourself for much less than that. While one option is to simply make a compost pile, an enclosed compost bin, either in the backyard or in the basement of your house, is a better option, especially if you have a small yard where children, dogs and cats play.

Build A Backyard Compost Bin

The easiest way to make a composting bin is to use snow or sand fence. This type of fencing is designed to catch drifting snow or sand in specific areas and comes in metal, wood or plastic. The cost of either type is minimal ($20 to $60, depending on where you buy it). The fencing rests on four support poles that you need to pound into the ground. While this may not be the most beautiful compost bin, it is quick and easy, and can look attractive if you choose one of the cedar or other wood designs. If you prefer, you can substitute wire mesh that's used for a chicken coops, but it won't look as nice or hold up as long.

To make a three foot square bin, you need:

  1. Four stakes 4 1/2 to 5 feet tall (either 2-inch wide steel pole or 2 x 4 wood with one end sharpened like a tent stake)
  2. Mallet for driving stakes into the ground
  3. Post hole digger if soil requires it
  4. 12 feet of snow fencing or sand fencing (four feet high)
  5. Short lengths of wire or fence ties

In a few short steps, these materials can be made into a compost bin:

  1. Measure three square feet in your yard
  2. Pound one support poles between six and twelve inches into the ground with the mallet in each corner.
  3. Start the snow fencing at one of the back support poles. Use fence ties or cut your own short lengths of wire. Attach ties to the fencing and the support pole at the top, middle and bottom of the pole.
  4. Repeat with each pole as you stretch the fencing to the other poles, making sure it's tight and forms a square.
  5. When you make your way back to the first support pole, attach the fencing to it so your bin is fully enclosed.

If you have woodwoorking skills and prefer the look of a wooden bin, use compost bin plans to construct a different style of compost bin.

Build an Indoor Compost Bin

Using just two garbage cans, some insulation, a drill and organic matter, you can create an indoor compost bin to keep in your basement or garage. This option is ideal if you have a very small backyard or none at all. Another reason to use this method is that compost needs to stay warm and damp in order to decompose. If you live in a cold climates then indoor composting may work better.


  1. Two garbage cans, one small enough to fit inside the larger one
  2. Drill with 1/3 and 1/2 inch bits
  3. A brick or a piece of wood that is about the size of a brick
  4. Twigs, branches or wood chips


  1. In smaller garbage can, drill holes throughout the bottom and sides of can
  2. Place brick or wooden equivalent inside larger garbage can and fill area surrounding brick with wood remnants, twigs and branches
  3. Place the smaller can inside the larger one, fill the smaller one using alternating layers of brown and green matter. Ensure there is adequate water if items are dried out. Cover both garbage pails with their original covers, and wrap the outer can in insulation to keep the heat in. Use green insulation if possible, such as wool, since you might need to move this bin around in your basement.

Simple, Eco-Friendly Compost Bins

Both compost bins are simple to make and will have you reaping the benefits of a compost pile in no time. While you can certainly make fancier bins than these, or purchase custom ones, these set-ups are quick to assemble and use minimal amounts of materials for truly eco-friendly, low-impact choices.

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