Step-by-Step Compost Bin Construction

Overview

Gardeners interested in converting kitchen and yard scraps into a nutrient-rich soil additive often use compost bins to contain the decomposing organic waste. Unlike compost heaps, bins keep your scraps from getting messy and unsightly. Although you can purchase commercial compost bins, they're typically expensive and small in size. Build your own inexpensive bin from steel T-posts and a length of snow fence. This compost bin measures approximately 4 feet by 4 feet and has the capacity to handle the organic waste from most small households.

Step 1

Choose a good location for your compost bin. Look for an area that has well-draining soil and gets several hours of sun each day. Locate it near your garden, if possible, so you can put the mature compost right on your garden soil without having to cart it across your property. Measure off a 4-foot by 4-foot area and mark the four corners with stones.

Step 2

Sink a steel T-post into the ground at each corner location. Drive each post approximately 9 to 12 inches into the ground with a hand-held post driver.

Step 3

Lay the length of snow fence flat on the ground. Measure and cut it into 4 equal 48-inch-long segments with wire cutters or tin snips.

Step 4

Stand one of the 48-inch-long snow fence lengths upright (the wooden slats should be perpendicular to the ground) and position it between two of the steel T-posts to form one side of your compost bin. Locate the ends of the snow fence section flush with the outside edges of the two posts. Wire one end to the T-post with a 6-inch length of 14-gauge wire; use a piece of wire at the bottom of the snow fence, a piece of wire at the top and three additional pieces of wire equally spaced in between the two. Repeat this process to secure the other end of the snow fence length to the second steel post.

Step 5

Lift a second length of snow fence upright and place it between the two opposite steel posts to create the opposite site of your compost bin. Secure both ends of the fence to the steel posts with 14-gauge wire in the same way as the first length of fence. Repeat this entire process for the two remaining compost bin sides.

Step 6

Fill your compost bin with equal amounts of carbon-rich waste and nitrogen-rich waste. Add the materials to the bin in alternating 3- to 4-inch layers. Wet each layer of waste with water until it's about as damp as a wrung-out sponge to maintain the proper moisture level for aerobic decomposition. Aerate the compost once every four to five weeks by shoving a metal rebar post straight into the waste in several locations, moving the top of the post clockwise to break apart the waste.

Things You'll Need

  • Marking stones
  • 4 steel T-posts
  • Hand-held post driver
  • 16-foot-long length of snow fence (at least 4 feet tall)
  • Wire cutters/tin snips
  • Carbon-rich organic waste
  • Nitrogen-rich organic waste
  • Water
  • Metal rebar post

References

  • University of Missouri Cooperative Extension: How to Build a Compost Bin
  • University of Illinois Cooperative Extension: The Science of Composting
  • "The Complete Compost Gardening Guide"; Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin; 2008
  • USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service: Composting
Keywords: easy compost bin, wire compost bin, easy 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.