Types of Compost Bins

To save space, hasten decomposition, and keep the yard looking neat, contain the compost in some sort of structure. A wide variety of composting structures can be purchased, or made from a variety of materials. They can be as simple or complex as desired.

Yard wastes can be composted either in simple holding units, where they will sit undisturbed for slow decomposition, or in tumbling compost bins, which produce finished compost as quickly as just a few weeks with a good mix of materials.

(Click on photos to get more information and pricing about each compost bin)

Plastic stationary bin

Plastic Stationary Bins. These bins are for continuous rather than batch composting. Most units feature air vents along the sides and are made from recycled plastics, such as a Pyramid Composter. Look for a lid that fits securely, and doors to access finished compost. Size should be approximately 3 feet square

Tumbling or Rotating Bins. These composters, such as a Tumbling Compost Mixers, are for making batches of compost all at one time. You accumulate organic materials until you have enough to fill the bin, then load it up and rotate it every day or two. If materials are shredded before going into the bin, and you have plenty of nitrogen, you can have finished compost in five weeks or less.

Wire Bin. Use an 11-foot length of 2-inch x 4-inch x 36-inch welded, medium-gauge fence wire from your local hardware or building supply store. Tie the ends together to form your hoop. A bin this size holds just over one cubic yard of material. Snow fencing can be used in a similar fashion. Another option is a Wire Bin Composter, which holds 20 cubic feet. In addition, it can be expanded to form a three-bin unit.

Trash Can Bin. To convert a plastic trash can into a composter, cut off the bottom with a saw. Drill about 24 quarter-inch holes in the sides of the can for good aeration. Bury the bottom of the can from several inches to a foot or more below the soil surface and press the loosened soil around the sides to secure it. Partially burying the composter will make it easier for microorganisms to enter the pile.

block, brick, or stone bin

Block or Brick or Stone Bin. Lay the blocks, with or without mortar, leaving spaces between each block to permit aeration. Form three sides of a 3-to 4-foot square, roughly 3 to 4 feet high.

wood pallet bin

Wood Pallet Bin. Discarded wooden pallets from factories or stores can be stood upright to form a bin. Attach the corners with rope, wire, or chain. A fourth pallet can be used as a floor to increase air flow. A used carpet or tarp can be placed over the top of the pile to reduce moisture loss or keep out rain or snow.

Wood binTwo- or Three-Bay Wood Bin. Having several bins allows you to use one section for storing materials, one for active composting, and one for curing or storing finished compost. Each bin should be approximately 36 x 36 x 36 inches. Be sure to allow air spaces between the sidewall slats, and make the front walls removable (lift out slats) for easy access. Lift-up lids are nice.

Holding units are simple containers used to store garden waste in an organized way until these materials break down. A holding unit is the easiest way to compost. It only requires placing wastes into a pile or bin as they are generated. Non-woody materials such as grass clippings, crop wastes, garden weeds, and leaves work best in these systems. A holding unit can be a cylinder formed of wire (chicken wire is too weak to hold up to the bulk), or wood scraps. Openings in the sides need to be large enough to permit plenty of air, but small enough to contain the materials that are composting.