Compost bins provide an effective composting method for both gardening experts and newcomers to the world of organic compost. Unlike heap or sheet composting, compost bins--also called holding units--allow you to contain your compost within a wooden, metal or wire framework, which keeps your composting location looking neat and tidy. According to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, compost holding units typically produce finished compost in six months to two years without regular aeration. You can construct an inexpensive compost bin from steel T-posts and snow fence in a single afternoon.
Select a well-draining compost location that gets at least four hours of daily sunlight. Sink four steel T-posts into the ground 3 feet from each other to create a 3-foot-square composting area for your bin. Use a hand-held post driver to pound the posts approximately 9 to 12 inches into the ground.
Cut the snow fence into four 36-inch lengths with wire cutters. Wear work gloves and snip the wire between the snow fence slats carefully to avoid getting scratched on the wire.
Stretch one length of snow fence between two of the T-posts. Secure it to one T-post using four 6-inch-long pieces of 17-gauge galvanized fencing wire evenly spaced along the height of the snow fence. Repeat this process to attach the other end of the fence section to the other T-post. Secure the three remaining sections of snow fence to the remaining T-posts with 17-gauge wire to create a fully enclosed, square compost bin.
Spread a 6- to 7-inch layer of carbon-rich organic waste across the bottom of the ground inside your compost bin. Use a mix of materials, such as dead leaves, old hay, straw, shredded cardboard and sawdust. Place a 3-inch-deep layer of nitrogen-rich organic waste, such as cow manure, vegetable scraps, fruit waste and green grass clippings, across the carbon materials.
Sprinkle 4 shovelfuls of plain topsoil evenly across the nitrogen waste to introduce bacteria to your compost ingredients. Gently spray the compost with your garden hose until it's about as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Repeat the entire layering and moistening process until your compost bin contains at least 3 feet of layered organic waste.
Allow your compost bin to sit while the decomposing bacteria convert the waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Check the moisture level once weekly and mix the layers together once monthly with a manure fork if you desire more rapid composting.
About this Author
Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.