31+ Easy Affordable DIY Compost Bin Ideas

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Are you looking to start composting but worried about the cost and complexity? You’re not alone. Many gardeners face these challenges, yet the benefits of composting are too good to ignore.

Composting turns kitchen scraps and yard waste into rich soil, improving plant health and reducing waste.

This process is not only good for your garden but also for the planet. Our goal here is to show you low-cost compost bin ideas that are simple and easy to put together.

You don’t need a big budget or expert skills to start. Let’s dive into how you can make composting a part of your gardening routine without breaking the bank.

In this article

Understanding Composting Basics

Composting is a simple way to recycle your kitchen leftovers and yard waste into something very useful for your plants. It’s like nature’s way of recycling.

When you compost, you help turn things that you might throw away into valuable food for your garden. This process is not hard, but knowing a few key things will make it work better.

Key Components of a Successful Composting System

To make good compost, you need a balance of four main things: Greens, Browns, Air, and Moisture. Here’s a quick look at what each of these means:

  • Greens: These are your nitrogen-rich materials. Think of kitchen scraps like vegetable peels, fruit waste, coffee grounds, and fresh plant clippings from your garden.
  • Browns: These provide carbon. Browns include dry leaves, straw, wood chips, and even shredded newspaper.
  • Air: Good air flow keeps the composting process going by helping to break down materials.
  • Moisture: Your compost pile should be damp but not too wet, as moisture is critical for the composting process.

Here’s a table to help you remember:

GreensVegetable peels, coffee groundsAdd nitrogen for composting
BrownsDry leaves, shredded newspaperProvide carbon
AirTurning the pileKeeps the process active
MoistureWater (as needed)Necessary for breakdown

Tips for Efficient Composting

  1. Balance Your Greens and Browns: Try to keep a good balance between your greens and browns. A general guideline is to aim for about equal amounts by volume. This balance helps speed up the composting process by ensuring your pile has the right mix of carbon and nitrogen.
  2. Turn Your Pile Regularly: Turning your compost pile every week or two adds air, which is crucial. Air helps avoid bad smells and speeds up the breakdown of materials. You can use a shovel or a compost turning tool.
  3. Watch the Moisture Level: Your compost should feel like a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, add some water. If it’s too wet, add more browns to soak up the excess moisture.
  4. Cut Large Pieces Smaller: Big pieces of waste take longer to break down. By cutting or shredding your organic materials into smaller pieces, you can speed up the composting process.

Materials You Can Use for a Low-Budget Compost Bin

Creating a compost bin doesn’t have to empty your wallet. You can use materials that might already be lying around your home or that you can get for free or very cheap. This approach not only saves money but also recycles materials, keeping them out of landfills. Let’s look at some common, affordable materials you can repurpose for compost bins.

Common Materials for DIY Compost Bins

Here are some materials you might use:

These items are often easy to find. You might have them at home already, or you could get them from local stores or community sites.

Table of Materials and Their Uses

MaterialWhere to FindBenefits
Wooden PalletsLocal stores, warehousesDurable, provide good air flow
Wire Mesh/Chicken WireHardware stores, garden centersFlexible, easy to shape, good ventilation
Old Trash CansYour home, second-hand storesSturdy, with lids to deter pests
Upcycled Plastic BinsHome, recycling centersWaterproof, easy to modify with holes
Cardboard BoxesStores, homeFree, biodegradable, good for short-term use

Using These Materials

  1. Wooden Pallets: These are great for creating a large, sturdy compost bin. You can stand them up in a square shape and tie them together. The gaps between the slats allow for excellent air flow, which is vital for composting.
  2. Wire Mesh or Chicken Wire: This material is perfect for making a flexible, ventilated compost bin. You can roll it into a cylinder and use it to contain your compost. The open mesh allows for plenty of air circulation.
  3. Old Trash Cans: Transform an old trash can into a compost bin by drilling holes in the sides and bottom for air and moisture. They’re robust and have lids, which helps keep animals out.
  4. Upcycled Plastic Bins: Similar to trash cans, plastic storage bins can be easily turned into compost bins. Drill holes for ventilation and drainage, and you’re good to go. They’re lightweight and easy to move around.
  5. Cardboard Boxes: For a very temporary compost bin, you can use cardboard boxes. They’re free and biodegradable. Just remember, they’ll break down with moisture over time, so they’re best for short-term composting needs.

How do you make a simple compost bin?

There are several ways to make a compost bin from scratch. Depending on your skill-level and requirement, the most common compost bins in a house are prepared using pallets. One can also use old home wood, chicken wire, and straw bales as well.

For a healthy compost bin, one also needs to carefully select the material that he/she is putting into the bin. A mix of green and brown waste material is usually preferred. For convenience, it is better to place your compost bin in the backyard, outside your house area.

What can I use for a compost bin?

Compost bins can be made using plastic (since it is non-biodegradable), cement, hollow-bricks, stones, and wood pallets.

Does a compost bin need a lid?

Though a compost bin doesn’t need to have a lid at all times, having one helps control the water (moisture) and heat content inside the bin.

Can you put banana peels in compost?

It is OK to put banana peels in compost. Though it takes more time for the matter to compost, there is fundamentally nothing wrong in adding banana peels to your compost bin. Inclusion of banana peels to compost will supplement the mix with several nutrients such as Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Sulfur, and Magnesium.

Is it OK to have maggots in my compost?

It is OK to have maggots in your compost. These little creatures help break down the complex organic compounds into simpler molecules, thereby shortening the overall process time.

Do compost bins attract rats?

The smell of raw food is bound to attract rats and other rodents to the compost bin. Therefore, it is advisable not to add cooked food waste to the compost pile.

If needed, you can make a separate compost pit to treat cooked food waste. Also, it makes sense to cover the compost pits tightly and securely to keep rodents away from the compost bin.

What is the best method of composting?

The most simple and seemingly best way to handle composting is home composting. There are multiple ways of composting such as

  • In a pile
  • In bins
  • With worms
  • In a hole under the ground
  • In layers on the ground

Home composting in bins or pits is an environmentally-friendly way and reduces the waste output from your kitchen and house. This method of composting can happen throughout the year with the most optimal time being late summer to early winter as it provides better temperature.

Do I need worms to compost?

It is not mandatory to add worms in your compost artificially. However, certain earthworms significantly speed up the composting process and gives pure organic compost as the product.

DIY Compost Bin Ideas and How to Make Them

Creating your own compost bin is a rewarding project that benefits your garden and the environment. Let’s dive into how you can make a compost bin using wooden pallets, a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts due to their availability and sturdiness.

Pallet Compost Bin

Using wooden pallets to build a compost bin is a smart and eco-friendly choice. Pallets are often free to acquire and provide excellent structure and ventilation for your compost. Here’s a simple guide to making your own pallet compost bin.

Step-by-Step Guide to Constructing a Pallet Compost Bin

  1. Collect Your Materials: You will need four wooden pallets of the same size. Many stores give these away for free. You might also need some wire, nails, or zip ties to secure the pallets together.
  2. Prepare the Area: Choose a flat, well-drained spot for your compost bin. Clear the area of any debris or grass to expose bare soil.
  3. Arrange the Pallets: Stand the pallets on their edges to form a box shape. The slatted sides should face inward. If your pallets have one side that’s more closed off, face that side outward for better aesthetics and additional support.
  4. Secure the Pallets Together: Use wire, nails, or zip ties through the adjacent corners to connect the pallets securely. Ensure the structure is stable and won’t tip over easily.
  5. Add a Front Gate (Optional): For easier access to turn the compost, you can attach the fourth pallet with hinges, creating a gate. Alternatively, you can simply leave one side partially unsecured to allow it to be opened as needed.

Tips for Securing Pallets and Ensuring Proper Ventilation

  • Stability is Key: Make sure your pallet compost bin is well-anchored. You can drive stakes into the ground and secure the pallets to these stakes for extra stability.
  • Ensure Good Air Flow: The natural gaps in wooden pallets provide excellent ventilation, crucial for the composting process. Avoid sealing these gaps too tightly.
  • Consider a Cover: While not necessary, a cover made from a fifth pallet or a piece of tarp can protect your compost from too much rain, which might waterlog it. Ensure the cover still allows for air flow.
  • Accessibility for Turning: Regularly turning your compost helps aerate it and speeds up the composting process. Design your bin so that it’s easy to open and turn the compost within.

Table of Materials Needed

MaterialQuantity NeededPurpose
Wooden Pallets4 (or 5 for a cover)Structure of compost bin
Wire/Nails/Zip TiesVariesTo secure pallets together
Stakes (Optional)VariesFor extra stability
Hinges (Optional)2-4If creating a gate for easy access

Wire Mesh Compost Holder

Creating a compost holder from wire mesh is a straightforward project that can be completed in just a few steps. This type of bin is perfect for anyone looking for a simple, effective way to start composting quickly. It’s also flexible, allowing for size adjustments based on your needs.

Instructions for Creating a Simple, Cylindrical Compost Bin Using Wire Mesh

  1. Gather Your Materials: You’ll need a roll of wire mesh or chicken wire. The size depends on how large you want your compost bin to be. You’ll also need some wire cutters and gloves to protect your hands.
  2. Cut the Wire Mesh: Decide on the diameter of your compost bin. A good standard size is about 3 feet in diameter. Unroll enough wire mesh to create a cylinder of your chosen size, then cut it using the wire cutters.
  3. Form the Cylinder: Wrap the cut wire mesh into a cylinder. Overlap the edges by a few inches to give it strength. Use pieces of wire or zip ties to secure the overlapped edges together.
  4. Place Your Bin: Choose a location for your compost bin. It should be on bare soil to allow worms and other beneficial organisms to enter. A sunny or partially shaded spot is ideal.

Advice on Placement and Size Adjustments

  • Choosing the Right Spot: Your compost bin will do best in a location that gets some sun during the day but is not constantly in full sunlight. If possible, place it near your garden or kitchen for easy access to add materials.
  • Adjusting the Size: The beauty of a wire mesh compost holder is its flexibility. If you find you need a larger or smaller bin, it’s easy to adjust. Simply cut the mesh to increase or decrease the diameter. Remember, a taller bin might need additional support stakes driven into the ground and attached to the mesh to prevent it from tipping over.
  • Consider Multiple Bins: If you have the space, consider making more than one bin. This allows you to have different stages of compost going at the same time, such as one for fresh additions and another for compost that’s nearly ready to use.

Table of Materials Needed

MaterialQuantity NeededPurpose
Wire Mesh/Chicken WireDepends on sizeTo form the structure of the compost bin
Wire Cutters1To cut the mesh to size
Gloves1 pairTo protect your hands during assembly
Wire/Zip TiesVariesTo secure the edges of the mesh together

Using wire mesh for your compost bin is a quick, budget-friendly way to get into composting. This method is not only easy to set up but also allows for excellent air circulation, which is crucial for the composting process.

With a little bit of work, you can have a functional compost bin ready to help turn your kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

Upcycled Trash Can Composter

Turning an old trash can into a compost bin is a clever way to recycle while creating rich soil for your garden. This project is not only easy but also effective, allowing you to start composting with minimal setup. Here’s how you can transform a trash can into a useful composter.

Steps to Convert an Old Trash Can into an Efficient Compost Bin

  1. Select Your Trash Can: Choose a trash can with a lid, preferably one that’s not too large so you can easily move it around if needed. A can with a capacity of 20 to 30 gallons is ideal for most households.
  2. Drill Aeration Holes: Using a drill, create holes throughout the can for aeration. These holes are crucial for allowing air to circulate through the compost, speeding up the decomposition process. Make holes on the sides, bottom, and lid of the trash can. The holes should be about half an inch in diameter and spaced a few inches apart.
  3. Prepare the Location: Place your trash can composter on bare earth if possible. This allows worms and microorganisms to enter the compost, helping with the breakdown of materials. If you must place it on a hard surface, consider adding a layer of soil at the bottom of your bin.
  4. Start Composting: Add your organic waste, such as kitchen scraps and yard waste, to the bin. Remember to maintain a balance between greens (nitrogen-rich materials) and browns (carbon-rich materials) for optimal composting.

How to Drill Aeration Holes and Secure the Lid

  • Drilling Holes: When drilling, wear safety glasses to protect your eyes. Spread the holes evenly to ensure that every part of the compost receives air. This will help avoid smelly anaerobic decomposition.
  • Securing the Lid: To keep animals out and to maintain the right moisture level, it’s important to secure the lid. You can use bungee cords or a heavy object to keep the lid in place. If your can is light, consider anchoring it to the ground with stakes to prevent tipping.

Table of Materials Needed

MaterialQuantity NeededPurpose
Old Trash Can1Base of the composter
Drill and Drill Bits1 setTo create aeration holes
Safety Glasses1 pairFor eye protection during drilling
Bungee Cords/Heavy ObjectAs neededTo secure the lid

By following these simple steps, you can easily create an efficient and budget-friendly compost bin from an old trash can. This method not only reduces waste but also provides a continuous supply of compost for your garden, enriching the soil and supporting your plants.

Plastic Bin Composter

Using a plastic storage bin for composting is a fantastic and straightforward way to create a compact composting system, especially if you’re short on space. This method is great for balconies, patios, or small gardens. Here’s how you can turn a plastic bin into an effective composter.

Guide on Repurposing a Plastic Storage Bin for Composting

  1. Choose the Right Bin: A bin with a lid, around 18 to 30 gallons, is ideal. Make sure it’s dark colored to absorb more heat, which helps the composting process.
  2. Drill Aeration Holes: Use a drill to make numerous small holes on the lid, sides, and bottom of the bin for air flow and drainage. These holes are essential for oxygen to reach the compost and for excess water to drain out.
  3. Place the Bin: If possible, position your bin directly on the ground to allow worms and beneficial microbes to enter. If you’re using it on a hard surface, add a layer of soil at the bottom to introduce microorganisms.
  4. Add Your Compost Materials: Start with a layer of browns (carbon-rich materials) at the bottom, then add greens (nitrogen-rich materials). Keep adding in layers and maintain a balance between greens and browns.

Recommendations for Aeration and Managing Moisture

  • Aeration: To ensure your compost gets enough air, stir or turn the contents of the bin every week or so. This can be done with a garden fork or a similar tool. The holes you drilled will also help, but manually turning the compost ensures even aeration.
  • Managing Moisture: Your compost should be moist, but not wet. If it appears too dry, add some water or wet greens. If it’s too wet, add more browns to absorb the excess moisture. The holes at the bottom will help excess water to drain, but be mindful not to overwater.

Table of Materials Needed

MaterialQuantity NeededPurpose
Plastic Storage Bin1Container for the compost
Drill and Drill Bits1 setTo create aeration and drainage holes
Garden Fork or Similar Tool1To turn and aerate the compost
Soil (if needed)As neededTo introduce microorganisms if on a hard surface

This DIY plastic bin composter is a simple, efficient way to recycle kitchen scraps and yard waste into valuable compost for your garden. By following these steps, you create a compact composting system that fits even in small spaces, contributing to a greener planet and enriching your garden soil.

Cardboard Box Composting

Composting with cardboard boxes is a creative and temporary solution for recycling organic waste. It’s especially useful if you’re looking for a quick setup or if you’re in a situation where a more permanent compost bin isn’t feasible. Here’s how you can use cardboard boxes for short-term composting.

Tips for Short-Term Composting Solutions Using Cardboard Boxes

  1. Select the Right Boxes: Choose large, sturdy cardboard boxes. Boxes that have contained fruits or vegetables are ideal because they’re usually stronger and can hold more weight.
  2. Prepare Your Box: Line the bottom of the box with a layer of newspaper or cardboard to help absorb moisture. This layer will also prevent the bottom from breaking down too quickly.
  3. Layer Your Composting Materials: Start with a layer of browns (dry leaves, shredded paper) at the bottom, then add your greens (kitchen scraps, coffee grounds). Repeat these layers until the box is full, aiming for a balance between greens and browns.
  4. Keep It Moist: Ensure the contents of the box are damp, like a wrung-out sponge. This moisture level is crucial for the composting process.
  5. Location: Place your cardboard compost box in a spot where it won’t get too wet from rain, yet can still benefit from the natural outdoor elements. A covered patio or balcony works well.

Limitations and Considerations for This Method

  • Durability: Cardboard boxes will break down over time, especially when exposed to moisture. This method is best considered a short-term solution or for seasonal use.
  • Size and Space: Cardboard boxes can only hold so much material before they start to break down. This method might not be suitable for large amounts of composting materials.
  • Pests and Animals: Without a secure lid, cardboard box composters might attract pests. It’s important to monitor your compost and place it in an area less accessible to animals.
  • Weather Conditions: Cardboard boxes are vulnerable to weather conditions. Excessive rain can cause the box to deteriorate quickly, while too much sun might dry out the compost too fast.

Table of Considerations

DurabilityBoxes break down over timeUse multiple boxes or replace as needed
Size and SpaceLimited capacityIdeal for small-scale composting
Pests and AnimalsMight attract unwanted visitorsPlace in less accessible areas
Weather ConditionsVulnerable to rain and sunPosition in sheltered, yet outdoor, areas

Using cardboard boxes for composting offers a flexible and eco-friendly way to manage organic waste temporarily. While it has its limitations, this method can be an effective bridge to more permanent composting solutions or serve as a standalone option for those with limited space or resources.

1. Three-tiered worm compost bin

1 diy compost bin ideas

Worms are the main agents of soil compost, with this method, you can trap worms from the soil since the bin has three tiers making it possible to have both soil and the worms. In making this you will need just minor tools since it doesn’t require much.

2. Five-gallon Bucket Compost Bin

2 diy compost bin ideas

This is one of the easiest ways of making your compost. Made with few requirements, that is a trash can and probably a bucket. What you do is just place a mixture of food waste and some green debris. With the bucket, you can easily shake and turn them you will fasten the composition.

3. Angled compost bin

3 diy compost bin ideas


With this compost bin, you have easy access to toss in food and other green materials and also you have easy access to it, accessing the soil in this compost is much easier. You don’t need many tools when making it.

4. Upcycled Cardboard Box Compost Bin

4 diy compost bin ideas


You have some old boxes in your house you want to throw away, with the compost you can recycle your boxes. To make this you will need bulk boxes and the easiest way of getting some is if you visit the grocery, fruit and vegetable grocery, for the used boxes when doing some shipping. Waste food and green vegetables do have direct access to the soil.

5. Cedar Compost Bin

5 diy compost bin ideas

Source: gardeners, wikihow

This is a compost bin that is made out of cedar posts. It’s made simple to reach out and stir your compost or add more components to it.

6. Hardware cloths Compost Bin

6 diy compost bin ideas


It is a simple, cheap way of making a compost bin. With the only use of wire mesh to make up a compost bin. For the top section/lid you can also use a plank of wood.

7. Kitchen compost bin

7 diy compost bin ideas

Source: instructables, finehomebuilding
Kitchen waste food is full of nutrients that are good and improves garden soil. Having the kitchen compost bin, you can compile the waste foods from the kitchen, compost them and add them to the soil.

8. Double Decker Tunable compost Bin

8 diy compost bin ideas


This is a compost bin made out of plastic barrels and has a double tier that can rotate when mixing the compost, making the compost turn out better. In this, you can use two plastic barrels or use drums to make the compost bin.

9. DIY square Compost Bin

9 diy compost bin ideas


This is one of the best compost bins that can be made with some easy steps. This compost bin is made from wood and wire mesh, it has few airspaces making a faster composition. These airspaces come by the use of wire mesh.

10. Repurposed Pallet Compost Bin

10 diy compost bin ideas
10 diy compost bin ideas 1

Source: instructables, diyprojects
The best way of reusing old pallets is by making a compost bin with it. It’s simple because the pallets are already structured, what you do is just put them together to make a square box for your compost bin. It’s the easiest and least costly DIY one can ever make.

11. Milk Crate Compost Bin

11 diy compost bin ideas


This is a way of making a compost bin without spending much on it. By using old used milk crates you can make simple DIY home compost. The crates that are being used also make the composition process faster with the available air holes on the crate.

12. Tumbler Autoflow Compost Bin

12 diy compost bin ideas


The tumbler auto-flow compost bin discharges the already-finished compost. It has an auto-flow design making the discharge of already-composed material flow out into the available drums. It also rotates to mix the raw components for faster decomposition.

13. DIY Indoor Compost Bin

13 diy compost bin ideas

Space for compost bin should not be a problem since you can make an indoor compost bin. With this, you can save money from it, space-friendly and it is also customizable according to your needs.

14. Ultimate Three Bin Compost Bin

14 diy compost bin ideas


This is easy to make a compost bin with so much space to help you create nutrients that are rich in soil. It’s possible to place it anywhere on your farm. The size should not be a problem, it’s only an advantage since you will be able to produce much more nutrients for the soil.

15. DIY Drum Style Compost Bin

15 diy compost bin ideas


The main issue with composing is that from time to time you should be able to stir and mix the components to have the best nutrient composition for the soil. This one is easy to make and also possible to rotate to have the best mixture for the soil.

16. Willow Compost Pile

Willow Compost Pile | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: instructables

17. Farmhouse Composter

Farmhouse Composter | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: louiselangsner

18. Compost Bin DIY: Quick Pallet Project

Compost Bin DIY: Quick Pallet Project | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: diyprojects

19. Pallet Compost Bin

Pallet Compost Bin | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: prodigalpieces

Pallet compost bins with 3 or 4 horizontal compartments, 4 tier worm compost bin, and angular pallet styled compost bins are some of the ideas that can be adopted while making compost bins from wooden pallets.

20. Double-Decker Drum Composter

Double-Decker Drum Composter | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: instructables

21. PVC Pipe

PVC Pipe | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: desperategardener

22. DIY Compost Bin from Trash can under $20

DIY Compost Bin from Trash can under $20 | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: thehappyhousewife

23. Compost Bin From Hardware Cloth

Compost Bin From Hardware Cloth | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: goodshomedesign

24. DIY Indoor Compost Bin: Milkcrate Composter

Milkcrate Composter | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: instructables

Indoor compost bins can be as small as a bucket or a set of buckets attached, with each bucket specifically allotted for cooked food waste/ raw organic waste.

25. Log compost bin

Log compost bin | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: obsolete53ltl

26. Cardboard Compost Bin

Cardboard Compost Bin | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: shaunsbackyard

27. Wine Barrel Compost

Wine Barrel Compost | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

28. Concrete Blocks Compost Bin

Concrete Blocks Compost Bin | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: blueplanetgreenliving

Compost bins built using cinder blocks are more durable than their wooden counterparts. It is also one of the safest materials to build a compost bin as it will not leach chemicals or sludge onto the ground.

29. Build 3-bin Composting system

Build 3-bin Composting system | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: theownerbuildernetwork

30. Pallet Compost Bin

Pallet Compost Bin | Easy Compost Bins You Can DIY On Very Low Budget - FarmFoodFamily.com

Source: lovelygreens

31. DIY compost bin tumbler

The advantage of a compost bin tumbler is that it can be moved around and rotated periodically to facilitate proper mixing of the waste material. This has a positive effect on the compost preparation time.

32. DIY compost bin wood

Wooden compost bins are relatively easier to build. Attaching five wooden panes with adhesives or welds can be the perfect example of a do-it-yourself compost bin. Treated wood might last longer than untreated wood. Old-growth wood is also a good option.

Tips for Maintaining Your Compost Bin

Keeping your compost bin in good shape is key to turning your kitchen scraps and yard waste into valuable compost for your garden. Proper maintenance helps speed up the composting process and prevents common problems. Here are some tips to help you maintain your compost bin effectively.

Best Practices for Adding Materials to Your Compost Bin

  • Balance Your Browns and Greens: Aim for a mix of browns (carbon-rich materials like leaves and straw) and greens (nitrogen-rich materials like kitchen scraps and lawn clippings). A good rule of thumb is to maintain a ratio of about 2:1, browns to greens, by volume.
  • Cut or Shred Larger Items: Larger pieces of organic material take longer to break down. By cutting or shredding them into smaller pieces, you can speed up the composting process.
  • Layer Your Materials: When adding new materials, layer your greens and browns. This method helps maintain the balance necessary for efficient composting.

How to Turn and Aerate Your Compost

  • Frequency of Turning: Turning your compost every 1-2 weeks introduces oxygen, which is essential for the composting process. Use a garden fork or a compost aerator to mix the materials.
  • Signs It’s Time to Turn: If your compost starts to smell or looks compacted, it’s a good indicator that it needs more air. Turning it will help eliminate odors and reintroduce air into the system.

Troubleshooting Common Composting Problems

Composting can sometimes encounter issues like bad odors, pests, or slow decomposition. Here’s how to address some of these common problems:

Bad OdorsToo many greens, not enough airAdd browns, turn the compost to add air
PestsExposed food scrapsBury food scraps under browns, secure the bin
Slow DecompositionLack of moisture or airAdd water if dry, turn to increase air flow
  • Odors: A healthy compost bin should not smell bad. If you notice an unpleasant odor, it’s likely due to too many greens or insufficient aeration. Add more browns and turn the compost to incorporate air and reduce smells.
  • Pests: Fruit flies and rodents are attracted to exposed food scraps. To prevent pests, always cover your kitchen scraps with a layer of browns. Make sure your bin is well-secured to keep larger animals out.
  • Moisture Level: Your compost should be moist, like a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, add water and turn it to distribute the moisture. If it’s too wet, add more browns to absorb the excess moisture.

Maintaining your compost bin is straightforward once you understand the basics of what your compost needs to thrive. By following these tips, you’ll be able to keep your compost healthy, reduce waste, and create a nutrient-rich amendment for your garden.

Making the Most of Your Compost

After putting in the effort to maintain a compost bin, you’ll want to use the finished compost effectively to enhance your garden. Compost is often called “black gold” for its ability to improve soil health and boost plant growth. Here’s how to use your compost in the garden and understand its benefits.

Ideas for Using Your Compost in the Garden

  • As a Soil Amendment: Mix compost into your garden soil before planting. This improves soil structure, which helps roots grow more easily. A good rule is to mix 2-4 inches of compost into the top 6-8 inches of soil.
  • As Mulch: Spread a layer of compost on top of the soil around your plants. This helps retain moisture, suppress weeds, and slowly adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down further.
  • For Potting Mix: You can make your own potting mix by blending compost with soil and sand. A common mix is one-third compost, one-third soil, and one-third sand. This creates a nutrient-rich, well-draining mix for potted plants.
  • As a Lawn Top Dressing: In the spring or fall, spread a thin layer of compost over your lawn. This can help improve soil structure, add nutrients, and encourage lush, green growth.

Benefits of Composting for Soil Health and Plant Growth

Composting offers numerous benefits for the garden, soil, and environment. Here are some of the key advantages:

BenefitDescriptionImpact on Garden
Improves Soil StructureCompost helps soil hold more air and water.Promotes root growth and soil fertility.
Adds NutrientsCompost is rich in essential nutrients.Feeds plants and reduces need for chemical fertilizers.
Encourages Beneficial MicrobesCompost introduces beneficial bacteria and fungi.Improves soil health and helps plants absorb nutrients.
Reduces WasteComposting recycles kitchen and yard waste.Lessens landfill use and reduces methane emissions.
  • Improving Soil Structure: Compost helps to break up clay soils, allowing for better water drainage and root penetration. In sandy soils, compost helps retain water and nutrients that would otherwise leach out.
  • Adding Nutrients: Compost releases nutrients slowly, providing a steady supply that helps plants grow strong and healthy. It’s rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with trace elements needed for plant growth.
  • Encouraging Beneficial Microbes: The process of composting increases the number and diversity of beneficial microbes in the soil. These microbes play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter into nutrients that plants can absorb.
  • Reducing Waste: By composting, you’re converting kitchen scraps and yard waste into a valuable resource, reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills and, consequently, methane emissions.

Using compost in your garden not only benefits your plants and soil but also contributes to a healthier environment. Whether you’re growing vegetables, flowers, or maintaining a lawn, incorporating compost into your gardening practices can lead to more vibrant and productive gardens.


We’ve walked through the journey of creating a low-budget compost bin, showcasing that starting a compost pile doesn’t require a big investment. From using simple materials like wooden pallets, wire mesh, old trash cans, to repurposing plastic bins or even cardboard boxes, we’ve seen that almost anything can be transformed into a functional compost bin.

The benefits of composting extend far beyond just saving money. By turning kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich compost, you’re actively contributing to the health of your garden and reducing waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Starting your own composting project is a significant step towards living more sustainably. It’s about making a conscious decision to impact the environment positively. Remember, every bit of effort counts when it comes to protecting our planet.

So, let’s embrace composting not just as a gardening activity, but as a lifestyle choice that supports sustainable living. Your journey towards a greener future starts in your own backyard.

17+ affordable compost bin ideas to make