Compost Tumbler Directions


Compost is the result of organic matter decomposing into high-nutrient fertilizer. Tumbler bins mix the contents regularly to assist the organic matter in breaking down into compost. The tumbling process increases the efficiency so the compost is available in as little as 2 to 3 weeks. Quality compost consists of an even mixture of green nitrogen and brown carbon matter combined with moisture. Layering the organic matter will decrease odor and increase the decomposition rate.

Step 1

Remove the lid from the garbage can and drill 10 to 12 holes throughout the bottom for drainage. Drill aeration holes spaced 4 inches apart down the sides of the can. Use a hammer and nail if a drill is not available.

Step 2

Add a 2-inch layer of sawdust on the bottom to help regulate the moisture content inside the can. Create layers of green and brown organic material inside the bin to speed the decomposition process. Add more brown material if the bin has a strong odor.

Step 3

Add water to the can to moisten the contents. Do not oversaturate with water, as this will create sludge instead of usable compost. Monitor the moisture level and add water once a week if the contents appear dry.

Step 4

Place the lid on the garbage can and snap it in place. Secure the lid closed by strapping two bungee cords over top and hooking them onto the handles or through aeration holes. Securing the lid will prevent the contents from spilling out while tumbling the can.

Step 5

Tumble the compost by laying the garbage can on its side and rolling it back and forth for two minutes. Tumble the compost once or twice a week to mix the contents well and to increase the rate of decomposition.

Step 6

Place 2 to 3 cement blocks in a full-sunlight location so the holes of the blocks are facing up. Set the can on top of the blocks to promote air circulation around the can and allow for drainage through the bottom holes. Make sure the location has access to a water source to moisten the contents.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic trash can with clamp lid
  • Drill with 1/4-inch bit
  • Hammer and nail
  • 2 bungee cords
  • Water
  • Cement blocks


  • 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: make compost tumbler, compost tumbler directions, homemade compost tumbler

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.