Fencing or wire mesh makes a fine compost bin, as long as the holes are small enough to hold in the raw materials. A circular bin is usually the most attractive, sturdiest, and easiest to install. A wire cylinder also makes a practical holding bin for raw materials you’re collecting for the compost pile.
Snow fencing, a readily available material in cold-winter climates, makes an effective bin. The fencing is made from 1 1/2-inch vertical wood slats wired together so that a 2 1/2-inch gap separates each slat. This configuration helps hold in the composting materials while giving them lots of air. Snow fencing comes in rolls 3, 4, or 6 feet wide.
To build a snow-fence bin, drive metal fencing stakes into the ground in a circular pattern. The stakes should be the same height as the snow fencing. Wire one of the cut ends of the fencing to a stake, then attach the fencing to the remaining stakes, leaving 3 to 4 feet of the other cut end of the fencing free. Wire the end loosely to the first stake so that you can easily unfasten the flap to gain access to the bin.
Almost any wire fencing makes excellent bins. Even lightweight chicken wire, which might need a couple of poles to stiffen it and keep the cylinder upright, is strong enough to hold compost. Sheep fencing, turkey fencing, and welded hardware cloth all work. Concrete reinforcing mesh, which has larger spaces than most fencing, contains coarser materials but leaks fine materials like sawdust.
To make a bin 3 feet in diameter (about the minimum size for good heat retention), use a 7-foot length of fencing. For 4 feet in diameter, use 12 feet of fencing. For 5 feet, use 20 feet.