Gardening

How to build a compost bin

By Sondra Crane
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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compost bin containing vegitation
Learning how to build a compost bin is something almost anyone familiar with basic woodworking can master
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According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, lawn waste and wet garbage make up about 25 percent of the 1,500 pounds of trash that the average American generates each year. Our landfill space is overloaded, but if the millions of tons of leaves and grass clippings. If we were to compost vegetative waste, this problem could be dramatically reduced. Composting is easy with the help of a good compost bin - - and making one is not hard. Experts recommend a two-bin design for efficient composting. Follow these simple steps and learn how to build a compost bin this weekend. MATERIALS NEEDED:
  • 4'x4' posts
  • 5/4" x 6" pressure-treated (or cedar) decking boards
  • 2"x4" pressure -treated lumber
  • drill, with drill bits and driver bits
  • carpenter's pencil
  • measuring tape
  • circular saw
  • 2-1/2" rust-resistant screws
  • long clamps
  • safety glasses
  • work gloves
    1. Use a circular saw and cut 4x4s into six 40" lengths. The blade will not extend far enough to cut the 4x4s in one pass, so turn the 4x4s over to cut all the way through.. The 4x4s will form the corners and center supports. Cut 5/4"x6" decking boards into six 72" lengths. These will make up the back of your compost bin. Cut decking boards into eighteen 36" lengths to make up the sides and center divider of your bin.


  • Start by creating the back of the compost bin. Lay out three of the 4x4s on a work surface, and use 2-1/2" rust-resistant screws to attach the first slat to these posts. Make sure that the edge of the board is flush with the top of the 4x4s. Two of these 4x4 posts will serve as side supports and the third will serve as a center support. Continue attaching the next slats to these posts, using a 1" spacer to maintain a consistent gap between each set of slats. You may find it helpful to clamp the boards in place to hold them steady.
  • Assemble the sides of the bin. Stand the back panel upright, and have someone hold the top slat in place while you secure it with screws. Then place another 4x4 post in an upright position and attach the slat to the post, making certain that the board is flush with the end of the post. Continue attaching the decking boards with rust resistant screws, maintaining your 1" spacing. Repeat the process on the other side of the bin. When both sides are in place, the structure will stand up on its own. Then you can attach the center panel in the same manner. Before beginning your gates, attach a 6' decking board to the front bottom of the compost bin to help stabilize the two-bin unit. Measure carefully and check the directions on how to make the compost bin so that you do not mess it up and have to start over again.
  • Take measurements to confirm the width and height of the gates. Cut the boards to size, using 2x4s for the side supports and center braces. Make 45-degree angle cuts on both ends of the center braces. The support will extend from the bottom of one side of the gate to the top of the other side so that the side and center braces form an "N" shape. Measure to confirm the width and height of the gates. Cut the boards to size, using 2x4s for the side supports and center braces. Make 45-degree angle cuts on both ends of the center braces. The support will extend from the bottom of one side of the gate to the top of the other side so that the side and center braces form an "N" shape.
  • Build the gates by laying two side braces 28" apart and beginning to attach the slats with galvanized screws. Maintain a 1" spacing between each of the slats so that the composting materials will have adequate oxygen. When the slats are all attached, attach the center brace to the back of the gate. Attach the hinges to the gate using 1-5/8" screws, and attach the gate to a 4x4 post using 3" screws and then attach latches to the gates as well as the bin.
      The minimum effective size for a compost bin is 3' by 3' and the maximum effective size for a single bin is 5' x 5'. Be sure the bin you build is large enough for the waste you have for composting. If you make a compost bin too small the compost will begin to have a very strong odor because of too much water in the bin or too many scraps for the air to circulate. That's why it's very important to make the compost bin at least the minimum size – and two a bin unit will allow more air to circulate, speed up your composting, and reduce the risk of odor.

      Watch out for fruit flies, which are quite common in compost bins. Make sure the bin is far enough from your house to keep them from getting inside, or reduce the risk by making sure your compost bin is always covered.

      More tips for how to build a compost bin and keep it working
      • You can put leaves, grass clippings, old fruits and vegetables, coffee grinds, and egg shells in your composting bin. You can also include pine straw and pine nuggets, although these usually take longer to break down. Don't add meat, grease or eggs because they might attract pests.
      • Oxygen, water, carbon and nitrogen are essential for good composting, so you may need to add water occasionally. Carbon and nitrogen can come from manure or fertilizer.
      • Place your bin at least two feet away from any permanent structure. It should be partially shaded and near a water source. Don't place it too close to

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