How to Make a Cheap Compost Bin Out of Houshold Materials

Go green and build your own homemade composting bin.

Go green and build your own homemade composting bin.

You don't have to buy a compost bin to enjoy the benefits of homemade compost; you can build your own using a few household materials. When you've finished composting your yard clippings and table scraps, you can amend your flower bed, lawn and garden soils with the compost. If you decide to make your own compost bin, you'll have compost ready to use in about one to five months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see References 1).

Gather Materials

Collect a 13-gallon garbage can with a lid (often found in kitchens) and a 2-gallon garbage can without a lid (often found in bathrooms). You will also need a brick, an electric drill and a 1/2-inch diameter drill bit. You'll need a 5-gallon bucket and a shovel, too. Find an area in your yard where you can dig up 3 gallons of dirt. Use the shovel to dig up the dirt and put it in the 5-gallon bucket. You'll also need an old blanket.

Prepare the Materials

Drill six holes in the bottom of the 2-gallon garbage can using the electric drill and the 1/2-inch diameter drill bit. Drill about 24 holes around the sides of the can. It doesn't really matter how you arrange the holes, but they should be spaced 2 to 3 inches apart. The holes allow for drainage of the composting matter and for air to get in and speed up the decomposing process. You can drill more holes, but don't drill so many that you compromise the structural integrity of the garbage can.

Put it Together

Set the brick down inside the 13-gallon garbage can so that its long side lies flat in the middle of the can. Lift the 5-gallon bucket up and dump soil in around the brick until the soil reaches the same level as the brick. Set the 2-gallon garbage can down inside the 13-gallon garbage can and center it on the brick. Close the lid of the 13-gallon garbage can. The compost bin is ready for composting.

Keep it Warm

Open the lid of the 13-gallon garbage can and begin filling the 2-gallon garbage can with organic matter you wish to compost. This design is useful for composting indoors, but you can always build a bigger outdoor composting bin using larger trash cans. Every time you add new matter to the compost, close the lid and wrap the sides and lid with a blanket. The blanket acts as an insulator to help keep the decomposing matter warm. A scrap piece of insulation will work better than the blanket if you have one available.


About the Author

Cody Sorensen has been writing professionally since 2009. His online articles focus on his experience with painting, horticulture, construction, plumbing, home improvement and agriculture. Sorensen is a licensed truck driver, certified forklift operator and a journeyman painter. He studied organizational communications at Brigham Young University.

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