Compost Bin Designs

Sep. 25, 2010

Homemade compost bin designs are plentiful. Whether it be big, small, simple, fancy, wood, metal – someone out there has made one. But no matter which design you choose, in essence you want something that looks good and does its job. Let’s start by saying that you dont really need a bin at all for the composting process to work.

compost pile

For example:
Isn’t this the most beautiful compost pile you’ve ever seen? Just keep piling grass, leaves, kitchen scraps and garden waste, and 3 years later… gorgeous compost. (from Heirloom Orchardist)

Simple as it may be, there are obvious downsides to this method. Maybe you dont want to wait three years for finished compost. Right, neither do I. But! I can assure you, this person does not run out of compost. And it probably was worth the wait.

Space may also be an issue. Not many modern day yards have a spot suitable for a pile of such grandeur. In such a case there are numerous alternatives, each with their own benefits. Big compost bin designs are effective and capable of holding yards of compost. A smaller container is low cost, simple to build and maintain and can fit nicely in any yard. A compost tumbler is a tidy, medium sized option that’s almost effortless to maintain. And the grandaddy of all compost bin designs are heated, electric composting bins that turn your compost for you!

Compost Bin Designs

compost bin designs

The big bin design can be made of cinder blocks, bales of hay, wooden pallets, landscape timbers or basic lumber. Generally anything that will hold a pile of yard and kitchen waste will work. When designing your homemade compost bin, consider airflow, moisture retention and overall size of your compost pile. If you will be maintaining your pile consistently, you may opt for a two bin system, which will hold a spot for your finished compost.

I built this compost bin (completed August 18th, 2010) out of old boards and donated chainlink fencing. I left the front open for easy access.

Homemade Compost Bin

garbage can compost binIf you don’t need yards of compost, any small container, such as a garbage can can be used to hold your compost. Small containers are easy to maintain… dump it out, mix it up then pile it back in. A small container doesn’t drain or breathe well and can get downright stinky.

chicken wire compost binA chicken wire hoop straight on the ground will help with drainage and air flow. Securing the hoop with clasps would be helpful, so you can disassemble the hoop to turn the pile, then reassemble and scoop the compost back in.

compost tumblerSome people have small tidy lots. A heaping pile of compost would be appalling as cleanliness and odor containment may be a high priority. For those, might I suggest a compost tumbler, siding on a darker color to keep temperatures high.

Electric composting bins require no maintenance at all. They keep your compost heated to an optimum temperature and even turn the pile for you. Though they’re small and pricey, they fit nicely just about anywhere, contain bad smells and do all the work for you.

There really are no hard fast rules for composting. Whenever you pile organic material, its eventually going to rot. But there are some guidelines to build a compost pile that will make the process quicker with less smell.

If you have limited space and your compost bin is too far away from your kitchen, save the food scraps for a more conveniently located worm bin!

Where to buy those Fancy Compost Bins

Other Cool Places to learn about composting

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12 Responses to “Compost Bin Designs”

  1. Shelve says:

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  2. Amruta Nayak says:


    I and my friends are working on a project entry for ThinkQuest Digital Media Competition. We wish to use the image titled “Homemade Compost Bin” on the link in our project. The project entry is meant for ThinkQuest International Competition and is for non-commercial educational purpose.

    Please grant us the permission to use the image.

  3. […] *Wire compost bin from cultivators corner. […]

  4. Lal Dinga says:

    What is the most Economical size of wooden compost bin?, Specification for providing spaces between wood planks to satisfy moisture retention and air flow?.

  5. Hannah says:

    We are building a compost bin for a project in class and we were wondering were can we get the materials we need to make the compost for free

  6. Daniel Pesante says:

    Navigating the web I came upon this photo of a round partialy filled wire compost bin, it represents an image that I would like to incorporate in a manual on agroecology that I am in the processes of bringing to completion. The photo would be used to provide an example of a wire compost bin. The photo would not be used for commercial purposes! Would it be OK with you if I include it in the book, I would certainly include the information you provide as credit for the image, including author name and link.
    Sincerely, Daniel G. Pesante, Ph.D.
    University of Puerto Rico
    If you reply to the email I will provide further information.

  7. […] but it’s still a pile of stuff. That will eventually rot. (Lots of designs are available here, here and […]

  8. Paul says:

    Hi all! Paul from (mentioned in the article) here. Just to let everyone know that we are currently giving our website a complete redesign (almost finished).

    We also have a new FREE eBook entitled ‘Clever Composting – Tips & Tricks For Making Black Gold’ available to download right now.

    We’d like to invite veryone to come on over, grab a copy and then let us know what you think of it.

    We’re more than happy to answer questions too!

Leave a Reply to Shelve