Instructions to Make a Compost Bin


If you love the no-fuss maintenance of pile composting but live in a town with close neighbors, making a compost bin for your organic waste may be the solution to producing compost for your plants and garden soil--without offending your neighbors. According to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, compost bins produce finished compost in six months to two years, less if you opt to aerate your compost materials regularly with a manure fork. Use simple 1-by-4 inch cedar boards to create an inexpensive but attractive three-sided compost bin that even the pickiest neighbors should be able to appreciate.

Step 1

Measure off a 4-by-4 foot area on the ground for your compost bin, marking the corners with wooden stakes hammered into the ground. Look for a convenient area that drains well and receives at least hours of sun each day. Remove the sod inside the marked location to expose the topsoil, which allows the composting microorganisms in the soil to have immediate access to your composting waste.

Step 2

Dig a 2 to 3 foot deep hole at the first corner location using a clamshell post hole digger. Insert the bottom end of one of the four 4-by-4-inch cedar posts in the hole and check with a level to ensure that the post is straight in the ground. Pound loose dirt around the base of the post securely with a tamping rod. Allow the soil to mound up around the base of the post slightly to encourage rain water to drain away from the base of the post. Repeat this entire process for each of the remaining three corner posts.

Step 3

Turn one of the 4 foot, 1-by-4 inch boards parallel to the ground. Select the two corner posts that are located opposite the desired entrance side on your three-sided compost bin. Position the board with its two ends flush with the outside edges of the two corner posts. Locate the board approximately 1 inch above the ground. Nail the ends of the board into place on each of the two corner posts using 2-inch galvanized nails.

Step 4

Position a second 1-by-4 inch board parallel to the first board, locating the bottom of the second board approximately 2 inches above the top edge of the first board. Nail this board into place at both ends. Repeat this process with six additional 1-by-4 inch boards to create one side that measures approximately 4 feet high. Repeat the entire installation process using eight additional boards on each of the remaining two sides of your compost bin, leaving the front of the bin open for adding and removing compost materials.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid using chemically treated lumber, as the chemicals may contaminate your compost.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Clamshell post hole digger
  • 4 4-by-4 inch cedar posts (6 feet long)
  • Level
  • Tamping rod
  • 24 1-by-4 inch cedar boards (4 feet long)
  • 2-inch galvanized nails


  • University of Illinois Cooperative Extension: Composting Methods
  • "The Complete Compost Gardening Guide"; Barbara Pleasant & Deborah Martin; 2008
Keywords: building compost bins, compost bins, easy compost bin

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.