How to choose a composting container that fits your needs. There are many sizes, shapes, and styles of composting bins to choose from. You can make one yourself or opt for not using one at all and create a compost pile or heap.
Making a compost bin does not have to be hard, there are many ways that you can go about it. From purchasing a self-contained tumbler to making a heap for yard debris, an easy compost bin can be in your yard by the end of the day.
The process of composting occurs naturally in nature, but we can accelerate and improve the amount of compost we get then we provide human intervention. This often takes the form of compost tumblers and other managed composting strategies.
Take a look at one of these designs and get started composting today.
A Compost Tumbler
A compost tumbler is a cylindrical shape much like a drum laid on its side. It can be turned on a base that is supported on the flat ends. By turning the drum you are rotating and aerating the materials at the same time. It is an easy and effective way to rotate your compost.
- Easy aeration of the materials
- Off the ground for easy access
- Keep critters out of the pile
- Hard to turn when the container is full
- Purchasing a tumbler may be cost-prohibitive for some people
Rolling Compost Bins
A rolling composting container (Amazon) is often shaped like a round ball and comes in various sizes. The benefits of this type of container are the ease of getting it around (you can roll it over to your yard waste and roll it back to its base), and the act of rolling it also aerates and rotates the contents. There are many small round holes in the container to let air in too.
- Easy to tumble as you roll it around your yard
- Easy to add materials
- Exercise by composting can become your thing
- Keeps critters out of the pile
- Check the size before you buy, a 17-gallon size may do be big enough for a large family
- Considered a managed composting method that does require your time and effort for turning
Homemade Compost Bin with Found Materials
A wooden box with slats or a wooden framed box with mesh sides can be purchased or easily made at home. If you can find four wooden pallets, you can nail or even zip tie them together to create a compost bin very inexpensively. Another inexpensive idea for a composting container is to find a roll of wire mesh or cattle panel at your local hardware store and cut them into rounds to fit your compost area. Both of these options allow air to circulate as long as the contents are not too compacted.
- Easy to make from found materials
- Easy to expand the system as you have materials
- Requires some managing and turning
- Having the top open to the elements may allow too much water into the system
- Open to critters. Must be managed properly if you are adding kitchen scraps
- Sits on the ground, not suitable for areas with fire ant troubles
The Compost Heap
If you do not want to use a bin, start with a pile of grass clippings or leaves and start to layer your food scraps on top. As time goes by and your pile continues to grow make sure you rotate and “stir” it frequently. Be warned though, it is not as easy to turn a pile that is not contained. They tend to grow in circumference over time as the pile spreads out after rotating.
- Works well for yard and garden debris
- Best way to recycle leaves if you have a large tree
- No managing – set and forget from fall to spring
- Not easy to turn a loose pile
- May be difficult to contain as it grows
- The pile may get too wet in moist climates
- Materials (especially leaves) will need to be chopped into smaller pieces to be effective
- Not suitable for kitchen scrap composting
Related Article: Composting Rules the SMART Way
The Plastic Garbage Can Composting Container
A plastic garbage container can make an effective homemade compost bin. These are made with materials that are readily available at any hardware store and only take a few minutes to put together. Need something smaller? Even storage totes will work.
- Readily available materials
- Able to adjust the size based on the container chosen
- Has a ready-made top to keep out excessive moisture
- More difficult to turn than tumblers
You can get the benefits of composting without collecting materials at all. Many organic materials are reasily available to you and can be used as mulch. If you have leaves, grass clippings, and chipped branches, place them directly on the soil surface control weeds, reduce evaporation during the heat of the summer and make soil temperatures cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Mulch also reduces soil erosion.
Grass clippings are another terrific addition to your soil and they do not need to be collected for composting to be effective. Because grass clippings will filter down to the soil and rapidly decompose if you mow frequently, you can fertilize your lawn if you leave the cut blades right where they are. Remember to cut no more than one-third of the leaf blade or the grass may become compacted under the cuttings.