Homemade Tumbling Composter


Composting your food scraps and yard waste keeps those items out of the landfill, and the finished compost can be used to increase your garden soil's fertility. Tumbler-style composters may be easier for some people to use, since they do not require turning with a pitch fork, and tumblers often produce finished compost more quickly than traditional bins or open piles. Compost tumblers are a good choice for renters, since the compost is entirely contained and the bin is easily portable. You can build your own tumbling composter with materials found at any hardware store.

Step 1

Use a drill with a 3/8-inch or larger bit to drill several holes on the sides and bottom of a round garbage can. There should be a hole every 6 to 12 inches so the compost can breath.

Step 2

Stand the garbage can up on two cinder blocks or two short piles of bricks so air can circulate underneath.

Step 3

Fill the garbage can with roughly equal parts "greens" (kitchen scraps like potato peelings, carrot tops or coffee grounds) and "browns" (yard waste like fallen leaves or dried grass clippings).

Step 4

Place the lid on the garbage can. If the lid is not tight-fitting, you can secure it in place by threading bungee cords through the handles of the garbage can and over the lid.

Step 5

Roll the garbage can back and forth on the ground once a week to mix the contents.

Step 6

Add water to the compost bin as necessary to keep the compost moist as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 7

Stop adding kitchen and yard waste when the bin is full.

Step 8

Use the compost in your garden when everything is fully decomposed and the contents of the bin are black and crumbly. Depending on local weather conditions, this will take one to four months.

Things You'll Need

  • Round garbage can with a tight-fitting lid
  • Drill with a 3/8-inch bit
  • Cinder blocks or bricks
  • Bungee cords (optional)
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Yard waste


  • Western Lake Superior Sanitary District: Compost Bin Plans (PDF)
Keywords: compost tumbler, composting, kitchen scraps, yard waste, homemade compost bin, browns and greens

About this Author

Sonya Welter worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn., including "Zenith City News," for which she writes a regular outdoors column. She graduated cum laude in 2002 from Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college.