How to Make a Garden Compost Bin


In these days of "the more green the better," gardeners have an opportunity to minimize their carbon footprint even more than nongardeners. A compost bin gets rid of all sorts of kitchen garbage, leaves and paper. A garden compost bin isn't difficult to make and requires few tools. You might even have everything you need in the garage or storage shed.

Step 1

Locate the bin close to either the garden or the kitchen, but not so that it will be visible from the patio or entertainment areas. A sunny area is good as the heat accelerates the decomposition process. Occasionally it's necessary to add water to the pile, so keep that in mind. A convenient location means you will be more likely to add clippings and such to the bin.

Step 2

Decide how big the bin will be. Less than 3 feet by 3 feet and the bin won't decompose properly. Bigger than 5 feet by 5 feet and the size is too unwieldy. Cut the mesh wire to size plus an extra 8 inches, just to be sure. Fold the wire in the shape of the bin. For example: If the bin is 4 feet by 3 feet, crease the wire at 3 feet, at 4 feet, and again at 3 feet. The creases make it easier to wrap the mesh around the stakes.

Step 3

Dig a hole about 1 foot deep in the shape of the bin, moving the dirt to the side outside the bin.

Step 4

Drive a stake at least 6 inches deep into the ground at each corner of where the bin will be. Attach the mesh wire to the stakes with wire. Secure it firmly on three sides by wrapping the wire through the 1/2-inch openings and around the stake and then twisting. Each stake should be secured in four or five places with the wire. The fourth side will be loosely secured because that's the side that will be opened when you need to turn the compost over.

Step 5

Add a 6-inch layer of twigs to the bottom of the compost bin. Add kitchen scraps of vegetable and fruit peelings, coffee grinds and tea bags. Shred paper or tear into pieces. Shredded paper takes up a lot of space. Water it down and it shrinks considerably. Add garden clippings, leaves and grass. When the compost gets to be a foot high, add a couple of shovels of the dirt you removed. When it gets to be 2 feet high add more dirt.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't add meat, fish, poultry or fats to the compost heap. They attract rats, raccoons and dogs, and they don't decompose very well. Adding eggshells can attract snakes.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-foot high mesh wire, 1/2-inch square
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire
  • Shovel
  • Metal stakes 4 feet high
  • Twigs


  • "At Home in the Garden," Becke Davis, 2001
  • "The Desert Gardener's Calendar," George Brookbank, 1999

Who Can Help

  • How to build a compost bin
Keywords: garden composting bin, make compost, turn compost over

About this Author

Katie Rosehill's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in personal finance, weddings and gardening.