how to make a cheap compost bin

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Making a compost bin for garden and kitchen waste. 


Building your own compost bin really is easy, its simply a structure built to hold kitchen and garden waste together to keep the heat (created during the composting process) inside the pile.

 On this page
  • Materials to make compost bins,,
  • Using wooden pallets,
  • Using old car tyres,
  • Straw bales are a brilliant cheap way to build a compost bin,
  • Compost bin made out off wood.

A cheap compost bin can be made out of almost any material that won't rot..

How to make a cheap compost bin from timber
Simple guide to make a cheap compost bin from wood

Four important rules when making a compost bin

 The 4 rules are;

  1.  The bottom of the composting materials should be in contact with the soil.
  2. The bin should be big enough to easily allow you to get to the compost with a fork.
  3. Easily accessible to shovel out the finished compost from the bottom of the heap.
  4. Strong enough not to fall apart when full.

Materials that can be used to make compost bins.

You can use almost any material to build a compost bin as long as the bin is set directly on the ground to allow garden worms and other beneficial insects up into the bin to do they're important job in the composting process, and is big enough to easily allow you to get to the compost with a fork to aerate the composting waste (turn it over to let oxygen in), and later to be able to shovel out the compost.
Almost any material can be used to construct a compost bin but bear in mind wood will rot over time, concrete and plastic won't. 
  • Timber in the form of wooden pallets, sleepers or sawn timbers, I have included instructions to make a bin using sawn timber later in this article.
  • Plastic could include a purpose made composter available free or at a small cost from some councils, you can also use PVC panels fixed to a frame, they are impervious to water, so would not rot away over time. If you or a neighbour are having  cladding replaced the old strips fixed to a frame are ideal too.
  • Concrete breeze blocks or old house bricks can be used to make long lasting compost bins with the added advantage of easily fitting a top to keep heat in and rain out. 
  • Coal bunkers.I use one of the old fashioned concrete coal bunkers, the ones  that used to sit just outside the kitchen door, If you are lucky enough to find one and can dismantle and move it, they make great composters.
  • Straw bales.Straw compost bins are maybe on the large size for most domestic gardens but are a great way of producing a lot of compost in a short space of time. More about this method later.
  • Garden soil, A really simple and very effective compost bin can be made by piling up earth to form a square. Instructions below.


Materials to make a basic wooden compost bin. 
  • Seven 3 foot lengths of rough 2 x 6 timber, (Gravel boards come in 6 foot lengths, purchase 4 and saw them in half)
  • Four 4 foot lengths of 2 x 2 timber.
  • 28 x 2 I/4inch  Galvanized nails or decking screws if you have a battery powered screw driver.
  • A cover to  hold the heat in and stop the contents from becoming to wet from rain. Compost bins work best if the composting waste is kept warm and moist but, not wet, too much rain will slow the composting process down.
Assembling the compost bin. 
  • Sharpen one end of each 2 x 2 to a point.
  • Nail or screw two each of the 3 foot boards to the corner stakes on three sides, start flush or just below the tops of the stakes leaving a 2inch space between the boards to let air in, fit the last board on the front flush with the lowest boards.
  • Set the bin in place and hammer the corners into the ground.
The same method can be used to make a larger compost bin.
Use 6 ft gravel boards for the length,saw them in half for the sides and use 4 x 4 stakes for the corners to make the bin stronger.
A lid could be made and fitted but newspaper, plastic sheeting or bin bags do the same job.
 Other materials.
Using wooden pallets. 
You will need four pallets, plastic ties or nails.
Place the pallets on end to form a square, tie or nail two sides and the back together.
Use ties, wire or strong string to tie one side of the front pallet to the end of a side pallet, to form a hinge (you will need to be able to open the front to shovel out the finished compost)
Wedge the other side shut or tie shut with a easily opened knot.
To make a stronger more stable compost bin using pallets, hammer 4 x 4 wooden stakes into the corners and tie or nail them to the structure.
Using old truck or car tyres. 
Simply stack the tyres as high as you want, fill with kitchen and garden waste and remove the tyres one by one to get to the compost.  Tyres speed up the composting process because they retain day time heat.
Straw compost bins. 
Compost bins made from bales of straw or hay are unique as the walls become part of the composting process. Read my article hay bale garden for more information.  The bales are arranged in a square or oblong leaving a space at the front to slide a board across, this forms the door to shovel out the finished compost. 
A straw compost bin can be as big or as high as you want to build it, one or two bales high is normally high enough.
Straw compost bins will last for a couple of years before composting themselves, you then remove the twine, mix the straw or hay into the compost, build a fresh bale bin around the pile and start all over again. Brilliant and cheap way of building a compost bin.
Wire compost bin made from chicken wire.


 Hammer four 4in x 4in  sharpened posts into the ground  to form a 3ft square, tack wire netting to the posts leaving the front side easily detachable so you can get the finished compost out. Use a couple more posts positioned in the middle to build a 6ft x 3ft wire bin.