How to Make a $10 DIY Compost Bin for Your Garden

How to Make a $10 Compost Bin

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Composting is one of the best things you can do for your garden, but a compost bin can cost you anywhere from $50 to $300. I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to spend money unless needed. So, I figured out how to make a $10 compost bin – and it works.

Compost is the perfect soil amendment, and it’s free for you to make at home. A compost bin needs to have space for the dirt, scraps, and other items you add into it. It needs to have drainage holes and air circulation. Pretty simple, right?

Ready to make your $10 compost bin? Let’s get started!

Be sure to grab your copy of my new e-book, The Vegetable Garden Plan!

Items Needed to Make a $10 Compost Bin

  • Rubbermaid Container
  • Knife, Box Cutter, or Drill
  • Duct Tape
  • Chicken Wire
  • Scissors

How to Make a D.I.Y Compost Bin

Here are the step-by-step instructions to follow. While I used a knife, you can use a drill. Mine happened to be dead when I decided to make this bin.

Poor planning on my end!

Step 1: Pick Your Compost Bin

First, find the container that you want. I had an extra Rubbermaid container that previously held children’s clothes waiting for my younger kids to get older.

You’ll find that it’s not so strange to make a DIY Rubbermaid compost bin! Make sure it’s, at least, 24 inches tall or taller, and it does need to have the lid as well. A lid is necessary to keep the dirt moist and all of the critters out of the bin.

Listen, I love Amazon, but these bins are way too pricey on there. Walmart has them for around $7, so make a trip into town.

Step 2: Poke Holes in Your Compost Bin

Once you have your container, poke holes in the bottom and sides of the container. I just cut some slits into the plastic with a sharp knife, but a drill should do the job as well.

Adding holes to the bottom of the bin is necessary for two purposes.

  • You need aeration (air movement) throughout your compost. You really don’t want to trap all of those scents into the bin.
  • The holes let water drip out of the bin.

Step 3: Fix The Lid

Next, cut a rectangle out of the lid. This provides plenty of airflow and lets you add water to the bin without needing to take off the lid. Plus, it keeps animals out of it.

As you can see, mine isn’t a perfect rectangle or close to perfect. I don’t know what happened there; I got a bit distracted with four kids running around.

Look at this toddler’s toes! So darn cute.

Cut the chicken wire to be a bit larger than the rectangle you cut. Using duct tape, secure it to the lid. Duct tape fixes everything, seriously.

I never said this was beautiful, just cheap!

You might be able to use a staple gun as well, depending on the staple gun that you have. Some are designed for plastic materials.

Step 4: Toss in Dirt and Create a Base

Now, you’re ready to start composting. Add dirt, fruit and veggie scraps, some dried leaves from your yard, and more. Just make sure to avoid these items in your compost; they do more harm than good.

Step 5: Toss in Your Food Scraps

Now it’s time to start composting kitchen waste. So many items that you have and use in your daily life are compost safe.

Worried that you’ll put something unsafe into your compost bin? Make a composting list!

Here are some green and brown materials for composting.

  • Eggshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea Leaves
  • Fruit Scraps
  • Veggie Scraps
  • Newspaper
  • Napkins
  • Lint
  • Old Wine
  • Leaves
  • Grass Clippings
  • Twigs
  • Shredded Brown Paper Bags
  • Corn Stalks
  • Coffee Filters
  • Straw
  • Peat Moss

Step 6: Turn and Moisten

The last step is to moisten the materials and turn it with a shovel. It’s not a good idea to add TOO much water. If you add too much water, you can end up with a stinky compost bin.

Turning with a shovel is just as easy as it sounds. Use a shovel and turn the dirt around. You need to do this each time you add something to your bin, but that’s simple. Leave the shovel nearby. It only takes a few moments!

Picking the Right Area for Your Compost Bin

You want to pick a dry, shady spot in your yard for the best composting performance. At the same time, the location should be convenient for you, making it most likely that you’ll give your compost the care it needs. You don’t want to have to walk 1/4 mile to add to your compost bin.

Place your compost bin need a water source, making it easier to add moisture when needed.

You don’t want it in full sun or your compost will dry out too quickly. Composts, when done correctly, won’t stink, so you can keep it near your patio if needed. Ideally, your compost also will be in an area that is close to your garden.

Start Collecting Compost Materials

Now, you’re ready to start composting. It takes 3-4 months for your compost to turn into a finished product. You’ll want to add more of your kitchen waste and other items to the bin.

I like to keep a compost bucket on my countertop or under my sink. I don’t want to run out to the bin each time I use eggs or have veggie scraps.

These compost buckets use activated charcoal tabs to keep away any stink. When they’re full, dump them into the compost bin outside.

Easy peasy, right?

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21 thoughts on “How to Make a $10 DIY Compost Bin for Your Garden

  1. Thanks for the how-to guide! I know how compost bins can be super expensive. I, unfortunately, have no place for one in my flat. 🙁 It’s something I’d like to have if I live in a house though.

    1. Have you ever considered trying a worm compost bin? You can keep it under your kitchen sink and compost. Plus, vermicomposting is much faster than traditional composting. It’s great for those who live in apartments.

    1. That won’t hurt it! As long as you have enough holes in the box and perhaps sit it up on bricks, you should be fine! Mine isn’t under a covered area and we don’t have issues. If it gets too wet, add some carbon items (brown materials) like shredded leaves, to soak it up.

    1. You’ll need something with a strong fitting lid. You could use a different type of rubbermaid container with locks on the handles and staple gun the wire to the lid. If you have a lot of critters, it might be good to watch your local BST boards for compost tumblers. I found several this summer for less than $30!

    1. If I lived in a dorm or a small apartment, I would consider using a worm compost, known as vermicomposting. It’s virtually odorless, and you can put the box right under your kitchen sink cabinet. It’s perfect for small spaces!

    1. What I do is, at some point, I stop adding items and keep turning it. I let everything decompose then dump it out. A few chunks won’t hurt your garden. You can create multiple bins to space out when you stop composting and let it finish.

    1. Rats and critters are enticed by smell. Composting shouldn’t smell. If it does, that means you have too much nitrogen items (green items) instead of carbon. If I stick to good ratios, then I typically never have rodent issues. If you had a scent to your compost, try adding more shredded leaves, newspaper shreddings, cardboard pieces, or other carbon items (brown material) to your compost.

  2. Thanks for this! I’m going to try it! But it’s winter here in the Northeast and we get snow. Is that ok to have this outside in the snow?

    1. Yes! You might want to add some insulation around it, such as straw bales, and keep it protected from the winter elements

  3. How do you vermicompost under the sink?
    I have what I call a “muck bucket” under the sink in which I throw my eggshells, coffee grounds, banana peels, vegetable peels etc. We have winter so I am unable to store anything outside.

    1. You would need to create a worm compost bin, which isn’t the same as a regular compost bin. Worms need bedding added, then you toss in the scraps. Vermicomposting has little to no smell, so you can compost inside without any issue.

    1. No. I water maybe once a week, but if you live in a really hot or dry climate, then you would need to water more. If it looks dry, water it. There is no perfect solution. Compost needs to be moist but not soggy. Add water and turn it over with your shovel. If it still looks dry, add some more again. You can always fix it if you add too much water by adding some newspaper, cardboard or other brown materials.

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