How to Make a Compost Drum


A 55-gallon drum for composting allows for quick and easy turning of your compost pile. And because it is easy to turn, you will likely mix and aerate your compost according to schedule, thereby hastening the composting process. Composting in a drum is ideal for urban composters with limited space. The container keeps pests out too. For this method, fill the drum with compost materials all at once. If you want to save kitchen scraps to add to your composting drum, collect them in a five-gallon pail or two until you have all the needed material to fill the drum sufficiently.

Step 1

Drill six to nine rows of holes all the way around the barrel. Space the holes about four to six inches apart. Drill about 10 holes in the bottom of the barrel for drainage and aeration.

Step 2

Fill the barrel about three-fourths full of organic material, layering wet and dry materials, with about twice as much dry as wet material. Add a quarter cup of nitrogen fertilizer.

Step 3

Make sure the cover is on securely. Turn the composting unit on its side. Roll the barrel around for about three minutes to mix and aerate the compost. Then place it on the bricks to promote drainage and aeration.

Step 4

Repeat Step 3 once a week until the compost is finished. During the day, you may wish to remove the cover to allow for better air penetration.

Things You'll Need

  • 55-gallon drum
  • Drill
  • ½-inch drill bit
  • Wet and dry composting material
  • ¼ cup nitrogen fertilizer
  • 6 bricks


  • University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension: Constructing a Garbage Can Compost Bin
  • North Carolina State University: Composting for Home Gardens
  • University of Illinois Extension: Composting Methods
  • University of Florida: Construction of Home Composting Units
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Structures for Backyard Composting
Keywords: make compost drum, make compost barrel, simple composting unit

About this Author

Ann Wolters, who has been a freelance writer, consultant, and writing coach for the past year and a half, has had her writing published in "The Saint Paul Almanac," and in magazines such as "Inventing Tomorrow" and "Frontiers." She earned a master’s degree in English as a second language from the University of Minnesota and taught English as a foreign language for nearly seven years.