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Best Overall: FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter at Amazon
"Dual chambers allow you to finish one load of compost while you load the other chamber with new material."
Best Medium: Miracle-Gro Small Composter at Walmart
"This compact composter only needs two feet of space to operate, making it perfect for a small balcony or patio."
Best Budget: Redmon 8000 Compost Bin at Wayfair
"For an affordable price, this 65-gallon bin works well to process large quantities of material and heats up well."
Best Single Chamber: Envirocycle Composting Tumbler at envirocycle.com
"Four drain holes in the base collect the liquid created during the process, which can be used to fertilize plants and trees."
Best Vermicomposter: Nature’s Factory Worm Factory 360 at natures-footprint.myshopify.com
"Though requiring a bit more maintenance than other options, this worm-powered composter turns out returns much faster."
Best for Yard Waste: Geobin Compost Bin at Home Depot
"This open composter is made of a flexible plastic material that can expand as large as 3.75 feet in diameter."
Best Large Capacity: Lifetime 60058 80-Gallon Compost Tumbler at Amazon
"You'll need some muscle to operate it, but this composter has an 80-gallon capacity and a large opening for adding materials."
Best Overall: FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter
Tumbling composters are some of the most popular types of composters, thanks to their ease of use. Instead of needing to get out your pitchfork and manually turn the compost pile, the tumbler design makes it easy to regularly mix the contents of your composter for faster decomposition. The FCMP IM4000 Tumbling Composter is a top option that holds 37 gallons of material and has dual chambers— you can use one to finish a load of compost while you continue to load the other chamber with new material. Alternatively, some users have opted not to install the partition that divides the barrel and use this composter as a single chamber tumbler.
Perched on a metal stand more than two feet off the ground, this tumbling composter helps to minimize the chances of rats invading your composting material. However, the sliding plastic doors to the barrel can become frozen shut in winter weather, which has been a complaint of some users. In general, this composter is perfect for the needs of an average family looking to create compost for use in a home garden or to minimize organic waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
“The main thing is to be active, the more you’re turning it, the better.” — Marisa DeDominicis, Co-Founder and Executive Directive of Earth Matters NY
Best Medium: Miracle-Gro Small Composter
If you feel like you don’t have enough room for a composter, this version from Miracle-Gro is your perfect solution. This small composter has room for 28 gallons of waste but is compact enough to fit on a balcony, patio, or anywhere that has just two feet of space available. It’s also a great choice for a single person with a minimal amount of organic waste to be composted.
The Miraclo-Gro Small Composter has a single chamber design. It cures compost in as little as 4 to 6 weeks and only needs to be turned every 1 to 2 days. Just beware that the oxygen holes (which help aerate the organic material for faster decomposition) sometimes allow debris to fall out during mixing. Most users just sweep up the mess after turning, use a garden hose to clean the area or place it in a spot where a little extra compost won’t be an issue (like over dirt or grass).
Best Budget: Redmon 8000 Compost Bin
A basic outdoor composter is an easy way to advance your gardening game. The Redmon 8000 compost bin boasts an affordable price tag but has a capacity of 65 gallons. There are generally two types of residential outdoor composters—a tumbler style and a stationary bin like this model. This Redmon model is a stationary bin and while it’s lack of a base makes it more susceptible to rodents or pests (depending on what you put into your composter), reviewers find that it heats up the material inside more quickly and is better for processing larger quantities of material. One common complaint is that the lid of this budget compost bin tends to blow off in the wind, so you may need to secure it.
Best Single Chamber: Envirocycle Composting Tumbler
For a composter that is easy to fill and simple to maintain, the Envirocycle Composting Tumbler is a great option for a single chamber composter. Available in either a 17 or 35-gallon drum size, users love how easy it is to assemble this composter. It arrives in two pieces that only requires you to set up the base and place the drum on top. With a single chamber inside, there are no nuts and bolts to connect internally to create an internal partition. The rollers in the base make it easy to rotate the drum regularly to mix the composting materials inside.
Another feature that is often mentioned is the fact that 4 drain holes in the base collect the liquid created during the composting process. A spigot on the front of the base makes it easy to drain this ‘compost tea’ that can then be used to fertilize plants and trees. Reviewers have also been impressed with the customer service of Envirocycle and report that the company stands behind its products, even after years of use.
Best Vermicomposter: Nature’s Factory Worm Factory 360
If you’re looking for a composter with worms, the Worm Factory 360 from Nature’s Factory is a top option to consider. This expandable worm composter is delivered with 4 trays, which is usually an adequate size for the needs of 1 to 4 people. However, you can expand this vermicomposter to a total of 8 trays for higher volumes of waste.
The important thing to remember when composting with worms is that they have specific environment requirements. The composter needs to have sufficient airflow, enough moisture, and the right temperatures. The manufacturer recommends that you keep your worm composter between 40 and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. For many climates, this may mean that you need to bring the composter into the garage or even into the house (such as in a basement) during very cold or very warm months.
However, the additional work to maintain a living composter like the Worm Factory is well worth it when you consider the efficiency with which this system can process organic waste. Everything from kitchen scraps to paper waste can be processed by the worms into high-quality compost that will help your plants thrive.
Something else to keep in mind when choosing the size of your vermicomposter is how much you’ll be able to ‘feed’ the worms doing your composting work. As Marisa DeDominicis of Earth Matter NY points out, “The more you feed the worms, the more castings you will get. Keep in mind that it will take several months before you see returns.”
Best for Yard Waste: Geobin Compost Bin
If you are primarily interested in composting yard waste, the Geobin Composter is a simple solution. This open composter is made of a flexible plastic material that can expand as large as 3.75 feet in diameter. While it arrives tightly rolled, lay out the plastic to flatten before you bend it to your desired size.
The advantage of using an open composter like the Geobin is the quick decomposition of the material inside. Most users find this to be an excellent composter for items like leaves, yard clippings, coffee grounds, and other non-food items.
While it is possible to put food scraps in an open composter, you may have more rodents and pests interested in your pile. But if you need a simple solution for breaking down natural materials from your yard, the Geobin is a great option and gives you the ability to make the bin larger or smaller.
“Be careful about your input. If you have plant diseases in your plants, like scale and measly bugs, it won’t kill the diseases in those low temperatures [when using mesophilic composting methods].” — Marisa DeDominicis, Co-Founder and Executive Directive of Earth Matters NY
Best Large Capacity: Lifetime 60058 80-Gallon Compost Tumbler
If you’re looking for a composter that can handle large quantities of organic waste, the 80-gallon Lifetime 60058 Compost Tumbler is up to the challenge. This large capacity composter has space for a high volume of kitchen scraps, yard waste, paper and cardboard, and more. One of the best features of the Lifetime 60058 is the fact that it also features a lid with a large opening that makes it easy to add materials or access the finished compost.
Keep in mind, though, that a large composter can also become quite heavy. Reviewers point that you’ll need to use some muscle to turn the tumbler regularly for thorough mixing of the contents inside. Additionally, some users recommend that you reinforce the lid with additional screws to ensure a long life of service even under a heavy load. One common complaint is that this composter leaks liquid during the composting process, but this 'compost tea' can easily be captured in a bucket underneath the composter or you can simply let it drain into the ground below.
What to Look for in a Composter
Type of container
Are you looking to make your own compost from food scraps, or do you need a container to temporarily store food waste? The two products are completely different, so think about your needs.
The size of your composter affects the amount of material you can store. If you have a small yard and a mulching lawn mower, you might not need a large composter. Another thing to consider is the size of your yard, since you’ll need dedicated space to keep the composter.
Plastic composters are affordable and tend to be weather resistant, but, over time, the material can become brittle from sun damage and could eventually crack. Metal composters are heavier but will last longer. For in-home, short-term storage of compostable materials, it’s more about aesthetics — though be aware that plastics can retain odors.