How to Make a Cheap Compost Bin


A home compost bin provides home gardeners with a free source of high-nutrient fertilizer for flower and vegetable gardens. A cheap compost bin made from a plastic garbage container takes less than one hour to construct with a few low-cost supplies. Even amounts of carbon- and nitrogen-based organic matter will decompose in the container to produce organic fertilizer. Carbon-based organic matter is referred to as brown, while nitrogen-based organic matter is referred to as green.

Step 1

Drill 1/4-inch holes spaced 4 inches apart down the sides of the garbage container. Drill eight to 10 holes into the bottom of the container to assist with drainage when the can is standing upright.

Step 2

Place three concrete blocks with the center holes facing upward in a full sunlight area near a garden. Set the compost container on top of the blocks to keep the bottom drainage holes open and increase air circulation around the container.

Step 3

Place 2 inches of sawdust on the bottom of the can. Add even amounts of brown and green compost to the container in even layers. Brown compost consists of dry leaves, paper, egg shells and coffee grounds. Green compost consists of grass clippings, garden waste and vegetable scraps.

Step 4

Secure the garbage container lid by placing it on top of the can and hooking two bungee cords across the top. Securing the lid will prevent it from opening while rolling the container to mix the contents.

Step 5

Moisten the container contents with water to increase the decomposition time. Add water to the container once a week, making sure the compost does not become saturated.

Step 6

Mix the compost one to two times a week by laying the container on its side and rolling it back and forth for two minutes. Inspect the contents of the container to verify it is decomposing. Mix the contents with a pitchfork if the contents need manual mixing.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Large plastic garbage container with lid
  • Cement blocks, 3
  • Sawdust
  • Organic matter
  • Bungee cords, 2


  • 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 container compost, garbage compost bin, cheap compost bin

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.