Making a Compost Bin

December 9, 2010

Making a Compost BinI found an abandoned dog carrier measuring about 27 x 19 x 19. It's split on the bottom, but I've turned it into a compost bin. The recycling/composting experts I called agreed that it would work. They were happy to hear I was using something that could easily have been thrown out. To keep it as full as possible, place the carrier with the door facing up to rotate compost.


By Chantal from Salem, OR

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
November 28, 2005

No matter how much you pay for a compost bin, breaking down organic waste requires four things: water, air, a few naturally occurring microbes and a fair amount of patience.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

June 9, 2009

Does anyone have an idea for how to make a compost bin, without a lot of expense?

By Joy Poulos from Slidell, LA


June 9, 20090 found this helpful

You can go to google and type in "making a compost bin" There are several sites showing different types of inexpensive bins to make. Actually the bin keeps out animals so you could just start one on the ground without a bin if you choose to.

June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I just wrap some chicken wire or old screen material around 3 or 4, 4 ft tall (long) 2 x 2 lumber and pounded the lumber into the ground w a lg hammer. Nail/staple or screw the screen/wire to the wood and turn compost often.

June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I made mine out of 4 wooden pallets that I stood up on their sides and wired together. One of the pallets is the "door" where I attached a latch on either side for easy removal. Works for me.


You can find them just about anywhere. Just ask someone at the garden homecenters if they'll sell you a few, or look it up in the yellow pages.

June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I have a couple of thoughts after reading the post about using a dishwasher. Is this idea safe? Do metals or plastics leach to the ground? If using compost for a vegetable garden, does anything seep into the compost? Also, be sure the dishwasher door doesn't lock anymore or isn't hinged. As with any discarded applicance, a child could get locked inside.

June 12, 20090 found this helpful

I use a large plastic storage box. I punched holes all around the sides and bottom. I put my "stuff" in and then turn the box over on one visit and then to the side on the next, and the other side the next visit.


I water slightly every once in a while. It just sits in the back yard out of the way and works very good!

June 13, 20090 found this helpful

I made mine portable because I didn't have enough room in my small yard. It's good if you rent also so you don't have to remove a permanent one if you move. I used a large rigid plastic storage bin with a lid. You can also use a large round plastic garbage can with a lid. Drill small holes all around bottom and sides for air and drainage. Put in your compost material and a layer of soil, put lid on and put a couple of bricks down for it to sit on. (It drains better this way.)


All you do from here on is secure the lid and turn the entire box over and on it's sides. You can just roll the garbage can on it's sides to mix. Water to keep moist. When you're digging in the garden and come upon earth worms, put some in the compost bin. They like it in there and they and help with decompress process. I've done this for several years now and have really nice results.

P.S. When drilling holes in the rigid plastic start with a small drill bit. The larger bits can crack the plastic. You can make larger holes by changing bits or use a larger screw driver and bore the hole a little larger. Don't make the hole real large or "stuff" will come out the holes.

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September 22, 2010

I am looking for an inexpensive way to make a compost bin using easy to find recycled materials. I don't want it to be very large and it needs to be easy to turn the composted material. I just need to recycle garden and kitchen waste. Any suggestions?

Hardiness Zone: 4a

By RocknChr from Ord, NE


September 24, 20100 found this helpful

I have composted for years in my backyard. The most inexpensive compost pile is just that: a place where you pile up your compostable items and let them do their thing. No fence, no container, just a pile. However, most people, including me, like their compost to be a little more contained. I bought $4.00 worth of chicken wire and simple shaped it into a circle, with one large "stake" that was made from a piece of fallen tree branch. I wrapped the ends of the wire around the stake.


The chicken wire is a little less than waist high so I can stir my pile when it needs it. And when it comes time to empty it out, I simply unwrap one end from the stake, open up the circle, shovel out the compost, and spread it where I want it.

By the way, it didn't take all $4.00 worth of chicken wire to make one compost enclosure either, I had plenty left over!
Good luck and have fun. From: Granma Peggy

September 25, 20100 found this helpful

How about getting a barrel. With a lid when you want to turn it just roll it. Just make sure that it didn't have any harmful chemicals in it originally. Food grade plastic barrels would probably last the longest.

September 26, 20101 found this helpful

I have seen one made out of 3 wood pallets, the kind you usually find for free. Most stores will have them outside near their loading docks. And if you can't find them you can always log onto a freecycle website (if you have one in your area, they are great) and post a "wanted" asking for them there. People are always "giving" them away (because that's what we at do on freecycle, give away things). Just secure 2 sides with a bottom and voila!


You have a compost bin that breathes (make sure you use galvanized screws so they won't rust, those are less expensive than aluminum or stainless steal). You can lay something like branches on the bottom, opposite direction of wood slats, so items won't fall through the openings easily. Can always get a fourth pallet too, add a couple of hinges (so easy) and have a lid also. I hope that's been helpful.

April 14, 20110 found this helpful

If animals aren't a problem, you can make a simple bin with chicken wire. Leave the bottom open and the area where it is placed can be changed, if you want, leaving a very rich spot for planting. Just move the compost around with a rake. The center will get "hot" where the action is, so constantly moving the contents around, daily is great, and add water so the texture is like a wrung-out dish rag. You can cover the top if frequent rains are a problem and it will get too wet. that is a real basic pile. Look at pictures of commercial ones for other ideas, container types,etc. As long as it gets air and moisture it will work. Sandra

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 141 Feedbacks
July 19, 2016

Is there a stain that I can use on my compost bin to protect it that won't contaminate the soil?


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 107 Posts
February 28, 20170 found this helpful

I assume this is a wooden structure

there are many natural oils such as linseed oil that are or were used for staining and preserving wood that re not toxic.

here are more ideas: "Coffee, tea, vinegar, walnut hulls and even certain berries can be used to stain wood. One simple way to stain wood is to boil tea leaves in two cups of water until you have a deep tea concentrate. Simply brush the hot tea water onto your wood."


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
March 1, 20170 found this helpful

I would stain it with tea bags. You want something natural, or else the compost will affect your soil.

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September 3, 2014

How do I keep the snakes out of my compost bin? I love composting, but hate snakes!

By Linda


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
December 7, 20170 found this helpful

There is no way to keep them out of a bin. But, you could switch to one of the turning compost barrels that closes up.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
December 7, 20170 found this helpful

Put a bungee cord on the lid of the bin

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December 13, 2016

Pallets are often available for free and can be used for many wood building projects. This is a page about making a wood pallet compost bin.

Compost bin made from pallets with door open

May 18, 2013

This is a page about making a trash can composter. You don't have to spend a lot of money to purchase a composter. Make an inexpensive one from a trash can.

Trash Can Composter


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

September 22, 2010

I am looking for instructions to make a homemade compost bin.


June 9, 2009

How do I make a cheap compost bin?

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