Homemade Tumbler Composter


The Environmental Protection Agency reports that backyard composting is the most efficient way to convert small amounts of organic materials, such as yard trimmings and kitchen scraps, into usable compost. Composting can be done in piles, bins or pits. But this can be a laborious process, due to the physical labor required to turn a compost heap. You can skip a lot of labor by composting organic materials in a homemade compost tumbler. A tumbler can be put on its side and turned to efficiently shift the compost inside.

Step 1

Drill three rows of holes into the circumference of the trash can with the ½-inch drill bit. Space each row and each individual hole apart by 6 inches.

Step 2

Drill four holes in the base of the trash can in a square configuration. Each hole should be 6 inches from it's two neighboring holes.

Step 3

Drill four rows of holes down the length of the PVC pipe with the ¼-inch bit. Space holes 6 inches apart. Each row should be spaced equally from it's neighbor.

Step 4

Place the pipe in the center of the trash can to aid in air circulation.

Step 5

Pile a layer of wood chips in the bottom of the can around the PVC pipe to a depth of 3 inches. The wood chips will absorb moisture as the compost drains.

Step 6

Layer the compost into the can, in alternating nitrogen-rich "green" and carbon-rich "brown" compost layers. Examples of green material includes kitchen scraps, peat moss and grass clippings. Examples of brown material includes wood chips, dead leaves, sawdust and straw. Water the compost until it is the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.

Step 7

Place the lid on the bin, and attach it securely by threading a bungee cord through the lid's handle and hooking it over the handles on the side of the bin.

Step 8

Set the can onto two interlocking cinder blocks to allow for air circulation beneath the can.

Step 9

Turn the composter by taking it off of the cinder blocks, turning it on its side, and rolling it to mix the ingredients within the can.

Things You'll Need

  • 30 gallon trash can with lid
  • ¾-inch PVC pipe
  • Drill
  • ½-inch drill bit
  • ¼ inch drill bit
  • Wood chips
  • Peat moss
  • Grass clippings
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Sawdust
  • Straw
  • Dead leaves
  • Garden hose
  • Bungee cords
  • 2 interlocking cinder blocks


  • Environmental Protection Agency: Create Your Own Compost Pile
  • Univeristy of California: Garbage Can Composter
  • Montana State Univeristy: Home Composting

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Composting Bins
Keywords: homemade compost bin, barrell compost tumbler, making compost

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."