Compost adds rich nutrients and promotes soil microbes that aid plant growth. Compost is essential for any vegetable garden, but it is expensive to buy. Not only can the costs add up, but if you buy compost from a store you have no control over what materials it’s comprised of. This is why many gardeners choose to make their own compost! If that’s you, check out these 16 compost bin designs you can use to get started.
What Is Compost?
Compost is simply decayed organic matter. Of course, this occurs in nature all the time. Leaves, logs, and dead plants are constantly decomposing on the forest floor, adding nutrients to the soil. However, that naturally-occurring process takes years to produce fully decayed matter that we would compare to compost.
Gardeners use a variety of composting methods to expedite that long naturally-occurring process.
Some composting techniques include vermicomposting (using worms to help break down materials), container composting, and the classic compost pile in a bin. No matter what method you choose, it’s crucial to add the correct materials to your compost pile to accelerate the decomposition process. This means using equal parts “green” (nitrogen-rich matter such as food scraps and grass clippings) and “brown” (dead leaves or shredded cardboard) material. There is a lot of conflicting information on “green to brown” ratios. We have found success with roughly equal parts “green” and “brown”.
1. 2-Bin Compost Bin
This design has everything you could want in a compost bin. It looks nice, it has 2 sections, and it maintains good air flow while still keeping unwanted critters out with the screens. This is one of my favorite compost bin designs on this list, I may just have to build it for myself!
2. 5 Dollar Worm Bins
Apartment dwellers and urbanites often lament the lack of options for composting in homes with limited yard space or no yard at all. If you’re not the kind to get all squirmy over worms in your house, I highly recommend worm composting as a method for dealing with your kitchen waste. You can buy ready-made worm bins, but if you’re even a little bit handy and have access to a drill then you can make a vermicomposting bin yourself for under $5.
3. DIY Compost Barrel Tumbler
Drum composters convert yard waste to finished compost much faster than stationary compost bins do because they allow you to churn and instantly aerate the waste. They also have the ability to heat up faster passively from the sun as many are dark-colored. Plus, drum composters are easier on your back. This design takes a little bit of work, but the ease of access it provides to your finished compost is worth it!
4. Classic Triple Compost Bin
This is a very nice and sturdy version of the classic 3-section compost bin. It allows you to have 3 completely separate compost piles in different stages of decomposition. This is one of my favorite compost bin designs because it provides the most capacity for composting.
5. DIY Trash Can Compost Bin
This compost bin is ridiculously easy to make and it takes 10 minutes, tops. If you don’t have extra trash cans laying around, you can get one pretty inexpensively at the store. You could also search Craigslist for trash cans — people will sell anything. You may even find some free trash cans that people don’t want or need.
6. Cardboard Compost Bin
Talk about easy. This is literally just a wax-covered cardboard box on the ground. It’s genius! The wax keeps the cardboard from breaking down and is moisture-resistant. Additionally, these cardboard boxes usually can’t be recycled, so this is a great way to put them to use. Go to a local grocery store and ask if they have a couple boxes they’d be willing to give away.
7. Drum Style Composter
I love this compost bin design. Although it’s not “stylish,” it looks natural, and is quite sustainable… not to mention affordable at only $10-15. It’s easy to turn and provides good airflow – it can’t get much better than that.
8. Cement Block Compost Bin
If you have any extra cement blocks or bricks around, this could be a great free option for you. You could also look on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for some free or cheap blocks, if you don’t have any.
9. Plastic Storage Bin Composter
I have a million of these plastic bins lying around, and I’m sure there’s at least a couple I could spare to make a compost bin. Reusing materials we already own is the best way to make self-sufficiency projects as sustainable as possible. If you don’t have one of these lying around, they’re pretty cheap to buy and are easy to keep indoors.
10. DIY Classic Compost Bin
This is your classic one-pile compost bin design. It supports excellent airflow, and the bigger size creates a good opportunity for your compost pile to really start cooking. It also keeps both unwanted critters and odors out thanks to the covered top.
11. Easy Indoor Compost Bin
There are a lot of options out there for apartment dwellers who want to compost, and like most things it’s not as simple as one style fits all. It’s about finding what works best for you. Try something! And if it doesn’t work for you… try something else! This is an easy indoor compost option for people who need something cheap, customizable and space friendly.
12. Raised Garden Bed With Compost Bins
With this ingenious raised bed design, you get compost bins built right in! You simply can’t get more efficient than that. This design is also very visually appealing, eliminating the eye-sore effect some compost bin designs create. For more raised bed designs, check out 23 Raised Garden Bed Designs.
13. Stacked Milk Crate Compost Bin
The milk crate compost bin is the mini-version of the classic 3-bin design. Essentially, the 3 different crates host compost in different stages of decomposition. The top has newly added materials, which then get moved to the middle crate when partially decomposed, and then finally moved to the bottom when it’s almost ready. This design is easy and simple.
14. Pallet Compost Bin
Going green and creating your own compost bin isn’t as hard as you might think. All those grass clippings, plant prunings, and other yard stuff is easily recycled into compost. The project is simple. You need pallets, wire (to bind them together), some simple tools, and any extra hardware you would like to add for ease of use. Be careful, however, because some pallets are chemically-treated. If you see a “CT” or “MB” stamped on the pallet, don’t use it.
15. Eco-Friendly Compost Bin
This eco-friendly compost bin design is a little hodge-podgey, and could easily be adapted to include whatever materials you have available to use. I do wish there was more opportunity for air-flow, since this container is quite big.
16. Easy Recycled Compost Barrel
Personally, I’d classify this design as more rugged than refined. To some, a barrel with old tires on it might be an eye sore, so if that’s you, this isn’t the compost bin for you. If you have any extra of these supplies on hand though, this is a clever way to create an easily move-able compost bin.