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How To Create An Inexpensive Homemade Compost Bin That Works!

There is no better tool for making great compost than a well designed homemade compost bin.

And you might be surprised at just how easy it is to build your own incredible bin from something as simple as ordinary framing lumber. Even better – for far less than you ever thought possible!

wooden compost bins
A well designed compost bin goes a long way in helping organic materials decompose quickly. A good bin (like the one pictured above with slats), allows for air to reach the pile.

What Makes For A Great Compost Design

There are 3 key factors to a good homemade compost bin design. And together, they play a huge role in the success of a pile that heats up fast, and delivers great compost.

First, the bin must be easy to use. That means ample room for loading in compost materials, turning the materials, and scooping them out. Bins with narrow designs or limited access points can be hard to load, and even harder to turn and work.

Secondly, the bin must allow for good air flow to the pile, all while holding it together for good decomposition. Ample oxygen is a huge key for heating up and decomposing a pile. Unfortunately, if there is no room for air to enter, a pile will quickly stall.

homemade compost bins
Composting barrels designs can be hard to turn and load. They can also limit the amount of oxygen that gets to a pile, which can slow decomposition rapidly.

Third and perhaps most important, a compost bin has to be just the right size. It must be large enough to hold adequate material to facilitate composting, but still small enough that it’s manageable to turn and work. See: How To Create The Perfect Compost Pile

The Ideal Size For A Homemade Compost Bin

The ideal size for a fast working home compost pile is 3′ wide x 3′ high x 3′ deep. A 3 x 3 x 3′ pile allows enough mass for materials to heat up internally.

This single 3 x 3 x 3′ wooden compost bin is the perfect size for making fast compost. The wood slats in on the sides and back also allow for adequate air flow to the pile.

Any smaller, and the pile is not thick enough to hold heat for extended periods. A smaller pile also tends to dry out at a much faster rate. Both of which will slow decomposition to a crawl.

So what about a larger pile? Although piles bigger than 3 x 3 x 3′ certainly will hold in the heat and moisture, they can be immensely difficult for the average gardener to turn and manage. Not to mention, they take up more space than most gardeners have!

Creating The Perfect Homemade Compost Bin

Even though there are a multitude of compost bins for sale commercially, it is actually quite easy and inexpensive to build your own homemade version with basic materials and tools.

Commercial compost bins are created from all kinds of materials, but even so, wood remains one of the best options around. Not only is it economical, but it also helps with moisture levels in the pile.

diy gardening
A bin with removable slats like this one can make for easy loading and unloading.

Unlike plastic or metal, wood both absorbs and releases moisture. Instead of water pooling at the bottom or sides of a non-porous bin (which severely slows decomposition), a wood compost bin can wick it away.

Especially when it incorporates an open or wooden slat design that allows for air to the pile.

A Homemade Wooden DIY Compost Bin That Works!

A few years back, on our sister site Old World Garden Farms, we created two such compost bin designs from ordinary 2x lumber. A single 3 x 3 x 3′ bin, and a 6 x 3 x 3′ double bin for additional composting space. (See : How To Create The Perfect DIY Wooden Compost Bins)

2x framing lumber is actually an excellent choice for creating homemade compost bins. Not only is it inexpensive, it is also untreated. And that is extremely important when creating compost that will be used on vegetable gardens. Because of its thickness, it also lasts for years and years!

Double Bin System
Our double bin homemade compost bin. Double bins are nice for starting a new pile while the old one finishes decomposing.

At 36″ wide and deep, and 36″ tall, the bin take advantage of the ideal 3 x 3 x 3′ pile size guidelines. And with wooden slat slides and a removable front, it allows for plenty of air flow and easy access. After two years of full use and multiple batches of compost, the bins at OWG have become a favorite for sure!

Best of all, both the single and double bin can be built in just a few hours with nothing more than a circular saw and a drill driver. All for a fraction of the cost of commercial composting bins!

Here is to making a homemade wooden compost bin or two for your garden, and to making great compost next year!