Home-Made Compost Bins

Constructing your own bin offers many advantages over buying a bin. You can save money, especially if you use scrap materials. You can make the bin any shape, and it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Most important, making your own bin allows you to compost large amounts of material at high temperatures. Most commercial bins don’t hold the minimum volume—approximately 3 by 3 by 3 feet—needed for a hot, actively managed pile.

Home gardeners are constantly inventing creative and inexpensive ways to hold their compost—for example, bins made from wire mesh or from shipping pallets. For all the designs described in this section, you’ll have to figure out the volume that best suits your situation. Estimate the bulk of the raw materials that you expect to collect. If you’ve been setting the yard waste out on the curb in plastic garbage bags, just calculate the total by considering the typical load for one week.

If you don’t have enough experience with the raw materials to calculate the total, simply guess. If you miscalculate, you can make another wire cylinder or pallet bin quickly and inexpensively. Except with relatively expensive materials such as cinder block and railroad ties, it pays to overestimate the volume from the start so you don’t get caught short of composting space.