How To Make a Composter out of a Plastic Barrel


A simple online search will reveal thousands of compost bin options at a variety of price points. But even the most inexpensive varieties can be an unnecessary expense. All you really need to compost effectively is compost. Some gardeners simply pile it in their organic waste in the backyard and let nature take its course. A container, however, solves the problem of low-heat piles and predation. But there's no need to buy a compost bin. Any container will work--even something as simple as a plastic barrel.

Step 1

Wash the interior and exterior of the barrel and its lid with soap and water.

Step 2

Drill 6 to 9 rows of holes around the circumference of the barrel. Space the holes and rows evenly so that all levels of the compost will be well aerated.

Step 3

Fill the composter 3/4 of the way full with organic material.

Step 4

Turn the compost frequently. The compost bin can act as a quick-composting tumbler if its lid is secure (or you secure it with bungee cord). Simply turn it on its side and roll it across the yard 5 to 10 times a day. For more traditional bin composting, turn the contents once weekly by mixing them thoroughly with a shovel or stick or by emptying the contents and then shoveling them back in.

Step 5

Place the barrel in a sunny spot in your yard to help it maintain high temperatures.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill with 1/2-inch bit
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Shovel
  • Garden soil


  • University of Florida: Construction of Home Compost Units
  • University of Minnesota: Structures for Backyard Composting
Keywords: make compost bin, barrel bin, barrel compost

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.