15 DIY Compost Bin Plans

Ideas for How to Build a Compost Bin in Your Garden

compost bin made from buckets

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

If you're looking for a way to get rich soil for your garden while sustainably getting rid of food waste, consider a DIY compost bin. Building your own compost bin is a great budget-saving alternative to buying one. Composting is an easy process that takes green waste (e.g., fruit, vegetables, weeds, eggshells, and coffee grinds) and brown waste (e.g., dry leaves, sticks, cardboard, and newspaper) and mixes it until everything decomposes. The resulting nutrient-rich mixture can be used to feed plants and improve soil.

Here are 15 DIY compost bins you can create at home.

  • 01 of 15

    Under $5 Worm Bin

    A black plastic worm bin in a yard

    Attainable Sustainable 

    Creating a worm bin is a great way to begin composting, and it takes up a lot less room than a large composter. All you need are a couple of 5-gallon buckets and a drill. This project will take you through the process of making the worm bin as well as filling it. All you need to do is use that golden dirt. You'll need to set aside an hour (at most) to make this worm bin that costs less than $5 from Attainable Sustainable.

    Under $5 Worm Bin from Attainable Sustainable

  • 02 of 15

    Trash Can Compost Bin

    A person putting compost in a trash can

    BartCo/E+/Getty Images

    Making a compost bin out of a trash can is a great way to get a compost pile going quickly and without much of a budget. You'll need a plastic trash can with a lid and a few other materials to build it. Then you'll be able to fill the compost bin as directed. Before you know you'll have a trash can full of dirt you can use on your garden. The whole project will take you less than an hour.

    Trash Can Compost Bin from The Spruce

  • 03 of 15

    Pallet Compost Bin

    A compost bin built out of pallets

    Mike's Backyard Nursery

    Here's a free DIY compost bin plan from Mike's Backyard Nursery that's an affordable choice for someone who wants a permanent area for compost but isn't looking to spend a lot of money. This plan uses wood pallets for the frame and some hardware to keep everything together. It's pretty easy to find free pallets, making this an inexpensive way to compost.

    Pallet Compost Bin from Mike's Backyard Nursery

  • 04 of 15

    Wooden Compost Bin

    A wooden compost bin outside a house

     Practically Functional

    If you're serious about composting and want to build something that will last, this wooden DIY compost bin from Practically Functional is a great option. A hinged lid makes it easy to add items to compost, and it's sturdy enough to keep out any animals. Added features include hardware cloth, which provides air circulation, and hinged access to the bottom of the bin to get out the finished compost.

    Wooden Compost Bin from Practically Functional

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Wire Fence Compost Bin

    Compost bins built with wire

    mtreasure / Getty Images 

    If you have an area outside where you'd like to start a compost pile, this plan will show you how to make it secure. Inexpensive chicken wire surrounds the compost pile, though any type of wire fencing will do. You can easily change the size of this compost bin depending on the area you have.

  • 06 of 15

    Tote Compost Bin

    A black plastic tote in a yard

    Just Call Me Homegirl

    A plastic tote can easily make a compost bin with some holes to promote air circulation. For this project from Just Call Me Homegirl, you simply need a large tote and a drill to make the holes. Because this DIY compost bin is low to the ground, it's also a great way to get kids involved in composting.

    Tote Compost Bin from Just Call Me Homegirl

  • 07 of 15

    Straw Bale Compost Bin

    Straw bales in a yard

    ottoblotto / Getty Images

    Another way to make a simple, inexpensive, and custom compost pile is by surrounding it with straw bales. This lets you decide the size of the pile, which you can easily adjust as needed. It also provides insulation to make the composting process happen more quickly. Plus, as the straw breaks down, it can be incorporated into the compost pile.

  • 08 of 15

    DIY Compost Tumbler

    A compost tumbler in a field

    Kinda Crunchy Kate 

    This DIY compost bin plan from Kinda Crunchy Kate creates a compost tumbler, which makes it easy to turn over the compost. Turning a compost pile is important for controlling odors and making sure material at the edges mixes in to heat up and decompose. Tumblers can be pricey to purchase pre-made, but this tutorial shows how to make one inexpensively with an old barrel and some sawhorses.

    DIY Compost Tumbler from Kinda Crunchy Kate

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Plastic Storage Container Compost Bin

    person putting kitchen waste into a compost bin

    BartCo / Getty Images 

    Here's a slightly different way to build a compost bin out of a plastic storage container. The twist is drilling holes 1 to 2 inches apart on all sides of the container, including the bottom and lid, and then using wire mesh or hardware cloth to keep rodents out of the compost pile. You also can put the container within a second container to catch the liquid that sometimes seeps out of the compost pile.

  • 10 of 15

    Dig-and-Drop Composting

    person shoveling garden soil

    Mint Images-Henry Arden / Getty Images

    The easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to start composting for a garden is by using the dig-and-drop method. All you need to do is dig a hole in your garden and then add your composting materials to it. Cover the hole back up, and you'll have automatically enriched the soil for nearby plants.

  • 11 of 15

    Trench Composting

    Trench composting

    Sebastian Condrea / Getty Images

    If you have rows of plants in your garden, consider taking the dig-and-drop method one step further with trench composting. Simply dig a trench alongside your plants that's roughly a foot deep, and then fill it with about 6 inches of compostable materials. Then backfill the rest of the trench with soil. This is a great method for vegetable gardens where the crops are in evenly spaced rows.

  • 12 of 15

    Hot Composting

    hot composting bin

    Matt Montagne / Flickr / CC by 2.0

    Hot composting is a method that optimizes the microbial activity in a compost pile to decompose materials into compost faster. You can create your compost bin out of any typical material, such as wood pallets or wire fencing, but it must be at least 4 feet by 4 feet. It also should be positioned where it will get full sun. 

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Old Dresser Drawer

    Dresser drawers made into a compost bin

    Joel Dueck

    If you’re not able to compost outdoors, there are still some options for indoor composting on a smaller scale. For instance, you can use a plastic storage bin. Or you can repurpose a salvaged item, such as an old dresser drawer. Cover the top with a hinged piece of wood or heavy fabric, and you’ll have yourself a composting vessel.

  • 14 of 15

    Bokashi Bucket

    Bokashi composting

    Guido Mieth / Getty Images

    Bokashi composting quickly turns organic materials into compost using microorganisms. You can purchase bokashi kits, but it’s easy to make the composter yourself. You need two 5-gallon buckets, one well-fitting lid, and a drill. Simply drill holes into the bottom of one bucket, set it inside the other, and you’re ready to add your composting materials.

  • 15 of 15

    DIY Compost Screen

    Compost screen

    Kurt Wittman / UIG / Getty Images

    Regardless of the vessel in which you keep your compost, you’ll often want a compost screen to sift out any large chunks that haven’t fully decomposed before you add the compost to your garden. And a DIY compost screen is easy and inexpensive to make. Simply make a four-sided frame out of lumber, and staple hardware cloth to all the sides. Then, you can hold the screen over a bucket or wheelbarrow and sift the compost through it before use.

If you want to keep your compost out of sight, consider a DIY privacy screen. Moreover, if you're interested in composting but don't want to keep your compost, several composting services will take your compost and put it to good use.

Article Sources
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  1. Composting in Home Gardens. UMN Extension