How to Build Your Own Inexpensive Compost Tumbler


Composting is a very economical way to create organic materials to add to your garden. Adding composted materials to a garden helps to make even the most undesirable dirt into rich loamy soil that is full of nutrients. It is easy to build an inexpensive compost tumbler using a few simple tools and a barrel or bucket with a tight fitting lid.

Step 1

Choose a barrel with a tight-fitting lid that is at least five gallons but no larger than 55 gallons. These can be leftover restaurant buckets or new buckets from restaurant supply stores, restaurants or online stores. Use a bucket or barrel that was previously used for food or other non-toxic substance since this will prevent accidentally getting chemical residue mixed into your compost.

Step 2

Drill holes about six inches apart, all around the barrel or bucket. The decomposition process that is utilized during composting relies on water, air and heat to break down the materials in the compost. Creating enough small air holes will keep the air moving freely, allow excess moisture to seep out, but will keep the compost in the bucket. The holes should be no smaller than 1/8 inch and no larger than 1/2 inch.

Step 3

Begin to fill the barrel with kitchen scraps, shredded paper, dry leaves, grass clippings, manure, or other organic materials. Never use human or pet waste in your compost if it will be used on vegetables. Avoid meat and dairy products in your compost as this will cause it to be foul smelling. Layer the contents alternating wet and dry materials. Do not fill the barrel more than two-thirds full as this makes it difficult to mix.

Step 4

Add water to the contents of the barrel and allow it to drain completely.

Step 5

Tightly cap the barrel with the lid and lay it on its side. Roll the barrel around, mixing the contents thoroughly. Allow the tumbler to sit in a warm place for a day or two and repeat the rolling process. Continue rolling and letting it sit until the organic materials have composted down into a fine, dark, sweet smelling mix.

Things You'll Need

  • Barrel with tight fitting lid
  • Drill
  • Drill bits


  • Composting Yard Waste: Univ of Colorado
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Keywords: homemade compost tumbler, inexpensive compost tumbler, DIY compost tumbler

About this Author

Robin Lewis is a freelance artist, designer and writer. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, national magazines and on several self-help areas of the Web. Lewis specializes in gardening articles, publishing frequently on a variety of websites.