How to Build a Compost Bin

DIY compost bin, compost bin

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

One of the saddest parts of moving was leaving our garden, fruit trees, and compost bin that we had nurtured for so many years. It’s hard starting over but at least we will leave those resources to the next family who move into our old house. Upon moving in to our new place, building a compost bin was the first thing I knew I needed to do as it’s such an integral part of my families waste reduction. Did you know that 2/3 of our waste can be composted? This is why I continually say that if you just did one thing, let it be compost.
Luckily, our new home came with a pile of scrap fencing that I knew I could turn into a “good enough” bin. Trust me, if I can build one, anyone can. Most of the scrap wood was in decent condition so I figured this would be perfect. It also helped that my neighbor was in full support and even mentioned that they would love to get chickens some day. Yay for that! I was worried that we’d be those weird “eco” people on the block but I think we will fit in just fine.
I was pretty sure I’d end up with poison ivy or a snake bite digging through this mess but thankfully, I completed the project without either one of those things. I pulled out two of the fence sections and inspected which parts would be salvageable and which ones would most likely end up in the compost.

How to Build a Compost Bin

Once I decided what I wanted to use, I took the fencing completely apart and cut the decorative, pointy parts off with a circular saw. This made the longer, horizontal 2X4s about 8 ft. in length and the 1X4s about 40.5 inches long after the decorative part was removed. I’m saving those for a fun garden art project for Mother’s Day. Yay!
I cut the 2 8 ft. 2X4s in half leaving me with 4 – 4 ft. 2X4s. So all together I had:
  • 4 – 4ft 2X4s
  • 23 – 1X4s

To assemble this “recycled” compost bin, I screwed the 1X4s horizontally onto the 2X4s and spaced them about 3.5 inches apart (I honestly didn’t measure) up the entire side of the back. I used 2 wood screws on each end of the 1X4 to make the bin as sturdy as possible. I did the same for the front panel but only went half way up so that it’s easier to turn with a pitch fork periodically.

On the adjacent sides, I spaced the 1X4s so that they would meet in between the 1X4s on the front and back sides. When attaching the sides to front and back panel, I recommend attaching the top 1X4 first so that the bin doesn’t collapse as you finish up the remaining side pieces. Or you could get some help holding it. I don’t recommend toddler help no matter how cute they are. He is pretty adorable though.

Once I was done, I moved the bin in to a shady place so that the compost breaks down more efficiently. Too much sun will cause the compost to dry out too quickly and prolong what you want it to do. I put in a layer of leaves on the bottom to get it started and updated my profile on ShareWaste to let neighbors know that I would willingly take their food scraps if they needed somewhere to compost but didn’t have time to manage their own bin.

Now, if you are worried about animals getting into the bin, I’d recommend lining the inside with chicken wire and make a panel to go over the top.

I’m very pleased with how this turned out even if it is made with scrap wood and pretty much completely “estimated”. ┬áIt does the job – and that’s all that matters. Have you built a compost bin?

zero waste compost bin

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Compost Bin

  1. Looks great! Love how you have allowed plenty of air flow – really helps keep things bubbling along if we encourage the aerobic bacteria! #zerowaste
    Thank you

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