Composting yard waste and kitchen scraps is a great way to recycle nutrients and divert waste from landfills. There are many ways to make a DIY compost bin with reusable materials. Fall is a great time to get started, because leaves in compost piles can help promote the proper balance of green and brown materials.
Before you start, decide where you want your DIY compost bin to be located by finding a level site with good drainage. A partially sunny location is also ideal, as it will help warm your compost pile and speed up bacterial growth. It is helpful to have a water source nearby so you can moisten your pile as needed. Proper airflow helps your compost pile get enough oxygen, so make sure your location isn’t overly buffered by vegetation. Most compost piles are in contact with the ground to take advantage of worms and beneficial microbes.
Wood Pallet Compost Bin
Mike’s Backyard Nursery offers one of the simplest and least expensive DIY compost bin designs around, using repurposed wooden pallets. To find pallets, ask your local grocer and scour through Craigslist postings. Because you will be using these pallets in your garden, you will want to make sure they are free of toxic treatments, such as methyl bromide, so avoid colored pallets or ones labeled with EUR and MB treatment codes.
- 4 wood pallets of similar sizes
- 4 L-brackets
- 2 heavy-duty strap hinges
- Wood screws
- 1 gate hook and latch
- 1 cupboard handle or a utility pull
- Power drill
The four pallets stand up to form a bin, with one pallet on hinges. Fit all four sides together and keep the sturdiest pallet for the door because it will experience more wear and tear. Align the corners and pre-drill holes for the screws. One L-bracket will go on the top and one on the bottom of each of the back two corners.
Hold the L-brackets in place and drill in the screws. You should now have three pallets in place.
Now, it is time to attach the door with the strap hinges. Install the hinges on one side by drilling holes.
Finally, install the cupboard handle or utility pull on the opposite side.
Vertically Stacking Milk Crate Composter
This stacking milk crate composter from Instructables is a great solution for composting in small spaces or with small budgets. Some people may prefer to have the composter sitting on a base, but it can also be beneficial to have it directly on the earth for more contact with worms and good microbes.
The darker the color of the crates, the more heat the bin will absorb from the sun, speeding up the composting process. If you have old window screens or mosquito netting that you don’t use, you can repurpose them for this project.
- 3 milk crates
- Weed barrier fabric, or a plastic or metal mesh
- Rust-proof screws
- Drawer handles
- Hot glue gun
Cut the mesh and line the sides (not the bottoms) of the crates. Glue the mesh in place.
Next, make a lid that will fit on top of the crates. This can be done by screwing together pieces of boards and screwing in salvaged drawer handles. If the wood isn’t treated, add a protective coating to preserve it from the elements.
Line the top bin with two layers of newspaper and begin putting your kitchen and yard scraps in your composter. When the top bin is 3/4 full, move it down and begin filling the next bin.
Angled Compost Bin
This is a relatively large bin that is highly durable and looks great. There is a helpful tutorial video that walks you through all the steps. On the downside, this is a time-consuming project and is more involved than the other DIY compost bin designs. It is also harder to find the materials to upcycle, so you may need to purchase new materials.
- 20 corner blocks
- 36 AB York blocks
- 12 AB Dublin blocks
- 17 wall caps
- 5 50-pound bags of crushed rock
- 2 tubes of masonry adhesive
- Wood studs
- Wire mesh
- Dead blow hammer
- Hand compactor
- Circular saw
Place the blocks in a single layer to determine the configuration. Measure to make sure the dimensions are correct. Use a shovel to cut the grass to mark the spot where the walls will be.
Set the blocks aside and remove the grass and soil to make a trench.
Install a level foundation pad made from crushed rock until it is even with the top of the trench and compact the area with a hand compactor.
Place a corner block in one of the back corners and make sure it is level. Use a dead blow hammer and place all the back blocks of the back wall. Make sure all the blocks are level and adjust as necessary. Check the dimensions by measuring at the front and back to ensure uniformity.
Continue stacking the blocks and place the wall cap on the corner. Cut the wall caps as needed to complete the walls.
Use the adhesive to secure the wall caps in place.
Follow this sheet to construct the lid and mesh side by constructing a wood frame with mesh and attaching the frame to the bin.
Now that you’ve got a spiffy new DIY compost bin, find out 10 weird things you probably didn’t know you could compost.