How to Build a Composter for the Garden


Creating your own compost is an inexpensive way to obtain organic material from your garden and household scraps. Some compost piles are just piled in a corner of the yard. This leads to scraps scattering around the pile and messing up the yard. A bin helps by keeping the compost materials layered together. Most compost bins have the top left open so it is easier to dump your materials inside. Air gaps in your composter have the necessary function of allowing air to enter the pile and helping heat it up.

Step 1

Cut a length of galvanized chicken wire that is 10 feet long by 3 or 4 feet wide. Use a pair of heavy-duty garden shears. Wear work gloves to prevent scratches on your hands while you are constructing your composter.

Step 2

Fold back 4 inches of chicken wire at both ends. Make the folds go towards the inside of the composter. This will help prevent snags and pokes from the edges of the wire.

Step 3

Stand the chicken wire up in a circle with the folded edges on the inside. Creating a composter that is not anchored down by wrapping it around metal stakes makes it easier to move when turning the compost materials.

Step 4

Cut 4-inch lengths of heavy wire. Fasten the ends of the chicken wire together by twisting the wire. Stand the composter in the area where your pile is going to be located.

Step 5

Drive a 4 foot stake in the middle of the composter. This will help direct water into the center of the pile once the composter is full.

Step 6

Layer your organic materials into your composter. Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of green materials like grass clippings, fruit scraps and vegetable peels. Next add another layer of dry materials like shredded newspaper, egg shells and old leaves. Water your composter thoroughly.

Tips and Warnings

  • If the compost pile does not heat up, then you need to add more green materials. If it seems dry, then thoroughly soak the pile. Turn the compost pile to add more air to the pile to make it heat up. If your compost pile smells bad, then add more dry materials like newspaper or dried hay. Turn the pile to give it more ventilation. Do not use meat products or pet feces in the pile. These items will contribute to a stinky compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Galvanized chicken wire
  • Heavy-duty garden shears
  • Work gloves
  • Heavy wire
  • Wooden stake
  • Garden and household scraps
  • Water


  • "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 2008
  • "The Practical Gardener's Encyclopedia"; Geoffrey Burnie; 2000
  • University of Missouri Extension: "How to Build a Compost Bin"
Keywords: composter, compost bin, organic material

About this Author

Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the "Willapa Harbor Herald" and the "Rogue College Byline." She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.