How to Make a Garbage Can Composter


Compost bins in the home garden create an organic fertilizer out of a mixture of nitrogen- and carbon-based natural materials that have decomposed. Brown matter is carbon-based and consists of dry leaves, soil and paper. Green matter is nitrogen-based and consists of grass clippings and garden waste. Make your own low-cost garbage can compost bin and reap the rewards of making nutrient-rich fertilizer. The bin takes less than one hour to make with few required supplies.

Step 1

Remove the lid from the garbage can and drill 1/4- or 1/2-inch air holes down the sides of the can. Space the holes 4 to 6 inches apart around the can. Drill several holes into the bottom of the garbage can for drainage when the can is upright.

Step 2

Add 2 to 3 inches of sawdust or straw to the bottom of the garbage can to assist with moisture control. Add layers of green and brown matter to the compost bin. An even mix of the two types of compost will increase the rate of decomposition.

Step 3

Moisten the organic matter with water to assist with the decomposing process. Moist matter decomposes faster than dry matter.

Step 4

Place the lid on top of the garbage can and secure two bungee cords over the lid and onto the can handles. This will prevent the lid from popping open while rolling or transporting the compost garbage can.

Step 5

Mix the contents of the compost garbage can by rolling the can back and forth on its side for two minutes. Moisture will ooze out of the side and bottom of the can due to moisture inside the container. Roll the garbage can composter one to two times a week to increase the rate of decomposition.

Step 6

Set three to four cement blocks in a sunny area so the holes on the blocks are facing upright. Place the garbage can compost bin on top of the blocks. The holes in the blocks will allow moisture to drain through the bottom holes in the container.

Tips and Warnings

  • If there is a strong odor, add more brown matter to the garbage can composter and mix it well.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic trash can with lid
  • Drill with bits
  • Sawdust or straw
  • Organic matter
  • Water
  • 2 bungee cords
  • Cement blocks
  • Hammer
  • Nail


  • University of Kentucky: Constructing a Garbage Can Compost Bin
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: How to Make a Garbage Can Bin
  • Online Tips: Homemade Compost Tumbler
Keywords: garbage can compost, make compost bin, make garden compost

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.