Making a composting bin for your garden can be a simple and inexpensive DIY project. How to make a composter? It can be done with a variety of materials, including pallets, plastic buckets, or a fence wire. Look around your lot, check your garage, and read the instructions in this blog post. Let’s start from the beginning: What is a composter?
The composting bin is a container in which compost is created out of organic waste. The process takes anywhere between 3 weeks and 12 months. There are 3 types of composting bins: indoor, batch, continuous. The most popular are continuous composting bins, to which you can add waste daily.
Composting can save you a lot of money, nourish your plants and help the planet (as you produce less trash, and they decompose in a more healthy manner). And to start doing composting all you need is a place, few simple tools, a little bit of material, and time.
How to make a composter out of the pallets?
As wood is a natural material it is an ultimate material for outdoor constructions. It fits basically any style of backyard, and is safe (if part of it is going to fall in the composting pile it is not going to pollute it).
Step #1: Collect 3 pallets and 4 planks
The list of things you’re going to need for this project:
- 3 pallets,
- 4 planks,
- 8 corner brackets,
- 2 plate brackets,
- 48 screws,
- 8 nails,
- a hammer
- a drill,
- a screwdriver.
As a used pallet is on average $14 you can create this composting bin for about $50. Remember to choose pallets that are the same size. If they’re not, a saw needs to be added to the list and they need to be made even.
It is crucial to choose a pallet without pesticides. To be sure you buy a proper kind of pallet find the stamp on it and look for a symbol. HT means the wood was heat-treated and is safe to use for the project. MB means it was treated with the highly toxic pesticide Methyl Bromide and cannot be used for a composter. You can read more about it here.
Step #2: Assemble the walls
Join 3 pallets together with 2 corner brackets on the top and 2 on the bottom. Now add 2 plate brackets at the rear corners, to make the construction stronger.
Step #3: Assemble planks in the front
Now it is time to attach 4 planks at the bottom of the front. The goal of this part is to secure composting pile from falling out. This wall should be at most half of the height of a pallet. Building the wall higher may make throwing the waste in uncomfortable.
To bring your composter to the next level of convenience you can add doors in the front. You can find a nice tutorial on it here. To add doors you’ll need hinges and a hook-and-eye latch.
To make sure your construction is not going to move add a rebar to each wall of the composter.
Step #4: Add a chicken wire or netting
This is actually a finishing touch, that can be omitted. If you want to make sure no waste is going to fall out of your composting bin you can add a chicken wire or a netting around it. For attaching it U-shaped nails or a staple gun is going to be needed.
That’s it. Now you’re ready to start using your compost bin. You can view instructions on composting below.
How do you make a simple compost bin from a trash can?
Making a composting bin out of a plastic bucket is a great way to start composting. It has so many advantages:
- It does not require a lot of space.
- It is inexpensive.
- The DIY project takes up to 1h.
A DIY composting bin made out of a trash can cost around $10.
Step #1: Prepare a trash can, a saw, and a drill
To make a composting bin out of a trash can you’re going to need:
- a trash can,
- a saw,
- a drill.
Trash can/ bucket needs to be at least 18 gallons, 24″ tall or more, and have a lid. Let’s get to work
Step #2: Cut off a bottom of a trash can
To cut off the bottom of the trash can, or a bucket, you can use a saw or a utility knife. The bottom of the trash can is cut off for aeration purposes. It is also easier to take the compost out later on.
Step #3: Drill holes in the walls
As aeration is crucial for composting to create airflow drill holes all over the bin. To make it look nice you can make a pattern out of the holes.
Step #4: Install your composting bin
Now you’re ready to place your composting bin on the ground. You can add a weed cloth underneath it, but it is not a must. Even though composting does not smell composting bin is not a joy to the eye, so it is worth hiding it a bit.
If rodents arrive at your lot do not forget to put the lid on and secure it with heave stones, or a rope. Also avoid putting meat, bones, and dairy in the composting bin.
It is that simple and easy!
How to make a composter out of a fence wire?
Making a composting bin made out of a fence wire is a fast process. Most often it is a job for 2 people.
The cost of a DIY composting bin made out of fence wire is under $30.
Step #1: Collect a chicken wire, 4 rebars, zip ties, and a wire tool
To make a composting bin out of a chicken wire you’ll need:
- a fence wire,
- 4 rebars,
- zip ties (or a wire),
- a wire tool
- a hammer.
While you choose your wires pick the thickens of wire you are comfortable working with. If it is too thick a lot of strength is going to be needed during construction.
Step #2: Choose the size of your composting bin and hammer the rebars
On average, fence wire composting bins are 3-4 foot wide, round or square. This is a time to choose the spot and hammer the rebars on the square plan. You can put a weed cloth on the ground, but it is not a must.
For a thin wire rebars should be as high as the fence wire.
Step #3: Install a fence wire on the rebars
Roll out your fence wire and create wanted shape out of it. Attach the fence wire to rebars and connect ends with zip ties, or wire.
Look for any sharp edges and try to eliminate them with wire tool.
The composter is ready, how to make a compost in it?
How do you make a compost step by step
To make a compost a composting bin needs to be filled with organic waste. The new composting bin should be filled with two layers:
- Tiny twigs
After filling your composter with these 2 layers you can start adding your organic waste. There are two kinds of organic waste from a composting point of view: green and brown. Green materials are green leaves, garden waste, flowers, vegetables, etc. Browns are dried leaves, cartons, paper towels, dried grass clippings, etc. The full list is below.
The key to creating compost is balancing brown and green materials by adding them in layers. So let’s say you put in the composter a lot of rotten apples, the next layer can be dried grass clippings.
How to speed up compost process
There are multiple ways to speed up the composting process. The list you’re going to find below:
- Turn your compost every 2-4 weeks.
- Make sure the inside of your compost pile is moist enough. If it is too wet add dry materials, if it is too dry water it.
- Add waste in big batches instead of adding small amounts frequently.
- Chop and shred larger items.
- Keep your compost pile in the sun.
- Add a compost activator.
What is the best material for a compost bin?
There are two types of organic waste to be composted: green and brown. Below you’ll find a list of compostable materials.
|Brown materials||Green materials|
|Dead house plants||Garden waste|
|Paper egg cartons||Peels|
|Coffee filters||Coffee grounds|
|Cardboard (non-glossy)||Egg shells|
|Dried leaves||Green leaves|
|Dried grass clippings||Flowers|
What is bad for compost?
There is a list of materials that cannot be added to compost and not all of them are obvious as plastic. Take a look at the table below.
|Bad compost material||Why?|
|Citrus peels, onions, garlic||can kill worms and other microorganisms|
|Teabags, coffee pods||can contain nylon and other synthetic materials|
|Glossy or coated paper||contains toxins|
|Sticky labels on fruits and vegetables||plastic that contaminates compost|
|Meat, fish, bones||attract rodents, do not compost|
|Dairy, eggs||smells, attract pets and scavengers|
|Oil, butter, fat based condiments, and foods||attract pests, do not break down|
|Fresh baked goods, cooked grains||breed bad bacteria, attract rodents|
|Cat and dog droppings||can make compost toxic|
|Coal ash||compost made with it can damage plants (to high sulfur and iron amounts)|
|Grass clippings recently treated with pesticides||pesticides are not going to break down in compost|
|Weed seed, diseased plants||weeds and diseases can spread with compost|
Will compost attract rats?
Compost bin can attract rats, if the compost material consists out of materials listed above, so meat, fish, bones, dairy, eggs, fresh baker goods or cooked grains. Avoid these material and they’re not going to visit you.
Now it’s your turn
I hope you find my article about compost bins useful.
Now I’d like to hear from you: which composting bin you like the most and would like to construct in your backyard?
Was it the pallet, wire, or a trash can one?
And did you already know everything about composting or some of my tips surprise you?
Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below.