How to Build Compost Boxes


Contemplating beginning a compost pile soon brings up the question of just where the compost is going to be kept. There are all kinds of compost containers on the market today that can answer that, but for many garden do-it-yourselfers the ideal way is to come up with something cheap, workable and not too much trouble to make. Fortunately, compost doesn't care where it is kept and a $10 homemade box can work as well as a $200 commercial composter if the homeowner keeps it balanced, well watered and turned over on a timely fashion.

Step 1

Space nine concrete building blocks out on level ground, snugly together in a "U shape" approximately 4 1/2 feet square. If you want greater ventilation for the compost then lay the blocks so that the openings are on the sides. Start a second row of blocks by laying them on top of the existing blocks and continue for a third row. Do not go more than three rows high unless the blocks are cemented together.

Step 2

Tie three wooden pallets tightly together at the corners with baling or other strong wire to make a three-sided enclosure. Pound several wooden stakes into the ground on all three sides and nail the bottom of the pallets to the stakes to ensure stability. If a door is desired, use a fourth pallet with only one edge loosely wire-tied to the left or right side panel of the bin.

Step 3

Dig four holes 6 inches across and 12 inches deep in a square shape approximately 4 feet apart where the compost pile is to go. Prepare two gallons of cement mix according to bag instructions. Place a 5-foot length of 2-by-4 into each hole, and backfill with the cement until the hole is filled. Use a carpenter's level to ensure that each post is standing level. Wait a few days for the cement to harden, and then wrap a 4 foot high length of chicken wire fence around the posts to make a "U shaped" enclosure. Staple the wire in place.

Step 4

Stack three straw bales into a "U" shape. Ensure the wire wrap is not on the ground to prevent deterioration and slumping of the bale. Stack three more bales on top of those for a quick, simple and inexpensive compost box that will last at least one season--perhaps two.

Things You'll Need

  • 18 concrete builders blocks
  • 3 or 4 wooden pallets
  • 1-by-2 wooden stakes approximately 18 inches in length, 6
  • 5 foot tall 2-by-4s, 4
  • Chicken wire 4 foot high and approximately 17 feet long
  • 20 pound bag of cement
  • 6 straw bales


  • University of Florida Extension: Wooden Pallet Holding Unit
  • Yardner: Cement Block Bins
  • Gaiam Life: What Type of Composting Bin Should You Use?

Who Can Help

  • How to Compost: Your Compost Resource
Keywords: DIY compost bins, homemade compost bin, building compost boxes

About this Author

Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980. He has written for "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. Burton managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. He has a Bachelor of Science in broadcasting from John Brown University, and retired from the Navy Reserve in 1999.