Proper Set-Up of Compost Bins


Composting allows you to take natural fertilizer, soil and organic materials and turn them in to a rich fertilizer that will add many nutrients to your flower and vegetable gardens. To get the best results, you must set up your compost bin properly. You want your bin to be in the right location, and you need to have your compost pile prepared in layers. Once you get your compost pile set up, however, it will be a breeze to maintain.

Step 1

Choose a convenient, yet sunny location for your compost bin. Set up your compost bin where the sun can heat up the ingredients in the compost bin. It is also important for you to easily access the compost bin. Setting it next to the garden you are going to use the compost in is a good idea. You may also want to set the bin up near a kitchen door where you can easily dump your kitchen scraps.

Step 2

Assemble the compost bin as instructed in the directions if the compost bin wasn't completely assembled when you bought it. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Health recommends using a compost bin that is 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet.

Step 3

Fill the bottom of your compost bin with 6 inches of grass clippings, raked leaves, kitchen scraps, and shredded paper. A combination of these items works great. You may want to shred your raked leaves before adding them to help them decompose faster. This can be done by running them over with a lawn mower.

Step 4

Add water to your first layer of compost until it is moist, but not dripping wet.

Step 5

Pile a 1 inch layer of horse, cow, chicken, or pig manure on top of your first layer. This layer provides the fertilization.

Step 6

Add water to your second layer of compost until it is moist, but not dripping wet.

Step 7

Shove 1 inch of soil over your layer of manure. This is the third and final layer.

Step 8

Add water to your third layer of compost until it is moist, but not dripping wet.

Step 9

Repeat the three layers until you have reached the top of your compost bin. Make sure you continue to add water after each layer is added.

Step 10

Add air to your compost bin by mixing the compost pile with a shovel. Air is essential to increasing the rate at which the compost decomposes. After this step, your compost bin is properly set up and you can work on maintaining it until the compost is ready to be used.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never compost bones, meat or dairy products. These will cause your pile to smell and attract animals.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Grass clippings, raked leaves, kitchen scraps, shredded paper
  • Water
  • Horse, cow, chicken or pig manure
  • Soil
  • Shovel


  • Alabama AITC: Making and Using Compost
  • University of Missouri Extension: Making and Using Compost
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: How to Make Compost
Keywords: compost set up, making compost, compost bin

About this Author

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for six years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Associated Content and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the current cooking guru for LifeTips. She has received awards for being a top content producer.