How to build a Compost Bin

Garden Compost bin made of Bamboo canes.

A compost bin is easy to build, and cleaner and more convenient than a compost pile. Here are instructions on building a general-purpose bin, which can even be used on a porch or patio, as well as a yard-waste-only bin.


Recycle or buy a plastic bin or pail with a tight-fitting lid. It should be 24 inches tall or taller and needs a lid to keep moisture in and critters out.

Drill 8 to 10 small holes in the bottom of your container for aeration purposes. If necessary, drill a few holes in the sides or walls of the bin.

If you plan to place your bin on a patio, be mindful of leakage; drilling holes in the bottom of your bin may not be a good idea if you have downstairs neighbors.

Place some shredded newspaper or dry leaves on the bottom of your compost bin. Only fill it 1/8 to 1/4 of the way.

Pile dirt from your garden on top of the newspaper. When you’re finished, your bin should be 1/2 full. This will help get the composting process started.

Place your compost bin in a shady area away from your home. The backyard is best, but a porch or patio will do. Be sure your compost is not in full sun or it will dry out.

Add food scraps or paper products to the compost bin. This includes fruit, vegetables, crushed egg shells, paper towels, etc.

Animal products like fat and bones are also compostable but take longer to break down and may attract animals. Add at your own risk.

Stir your compost with a stick, making sure to cover your food scraps with dirt. Mixing the compost will help breakdown the scraps faster.

Try to give your compost a stir every other day.

Spray compost with lukewarm water until moist but not soaking wet. Moisture is essential to the composting process.

Drill 8 to 10 small holes in the lid of your compost bin. Secure it tightly to protect your compost from dry air and animals

Yard-Waste-Only Compost Bin

This bin will be able to compost things like yard waste, sawdust, and leaves. It can only be used outdoors over soil and will compost very slowly.

Cut out a large rectangle of chicken wire. This will form the body of your compost bin, which will be a cylinder shape.

The height of the rectangle will be the height of your bin.

The length of the rectangle will be the diameter of your bin.

If you’re not sure where to begin, hold the uncut chicken wire in front of you to get a sense of how tall and wide you’d like it to be. Since you’ll be filling this bin with yard waste, err on the large side.

Make four stakes out of scrap wood. These will be staked into the ground to maintain the shape of your wire bin, so be sure that they are longer than the height of your chicken wire.

Flatten your rectangle of chicken wire onto the ground. Stretching it out will make it easier to work with.

Using a staple gun, attach a stake along one of the short edges of your chicken wire. This works best of you place the stake beneath the wire. The top of the stake should stick out slightly above the top of the wire.

Roll the other side of the chicken wire up and over so that the unstaked end overlaps the staked end. Your chicken wire should now be in the shape of a cylinder

Staple the edge of your chicken wire along the stake. It may be necessary to crawl inside the wire to reach the stake better.

Stake your unfinished bin into the ground. Make sure you choose a spot that won’t get in your way later.

Drive your other three stakes into the ground around the bin. Be sure to stake them close enough to the wire that they don’t pull it out of shape. When you are done, the four stakes should be in the shape of a square.

Staple the remaining stakes to the chicken wire. Once the bin is fully secured, you can start filling it with yard waste.

Things You’ll Need

General-Purpose Bin:

  • Pail/Bin with tight fitting lid
  • Drill or something to poke through with.
  • Drill bit (smaller, better) or something to poke through with.
  • Shredded newspaper/dried leaves
  • Soil
  • Kitchen and Garden scraps
  • Sprayer
  • Lukewarm water
  • (optional)Small scrap of carpet

Yard-Waste Bin:

  • Large sheet of chicken wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Long wooden stakes
  • Staple gun
  • Gloves


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