How to Make a Rotating Compost Bin


A rotating compost bin makes it easy to frequently turn a hot compost pile. By continually introducing air into the pile in this manner, you can turn compost material into humus more quickly than you can with a cold compost pile. There's no reason to invest in an expensive commercial hand-crank tumbler. A wood or plastic barrel at least 55 gallons in size with a lid can be converted into a rotating compost bin that is just as effective as any commercial model.

Step 1

Remove the barrel's lid and thoroughly wash the lid and the interior and exterior of the barrel with soap, water and a stiff scrub brush. Rinse the barrel clean with a stiff spray from a hose.

Step 2

Drill six to nine circumferential rings of holes spaced 6 inches apart. Space the rows evenly so that the compost is evenly aerated from top to bottom.

Step 3

Fill the compost bin three-quarters of the way with compost material and fasten the barrel's lid. If the lid does not fasten securely, use a bungee cord around the length of the barrel to hold the lid in place.

Step 4

Turn the compost barrel on its side and roll it across your yard a few times a day. The more often you turn the barrel, the more quickly its contents will turn to humus. The process should take around 10 weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Barrel
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Brush
  • Drill
  • 1/2 inch bit
  • Bungee cord


  • Mother Earth News: Compost Tumbler
  • University of Kentucky: Home Composting
  • University of Minnesota: Structures for Backyard Composting
  • University of Florida: Construction of Home Compost Units
Keywords: rotating compost bin, compost tumbler, compost barrel

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.