How to Make a Turning Compost Bin


A homemade turning compost bin is an effective way to reuse kitchen and garden scraps. Instead of throwing decomposable waste in the garbage can where it ends up in landfills, use it to create a rich loamy organic fertilizer for your garden soil. A turning compost bin is a large barrel or drum that a homeowner fills with kitchen and yard waste, and turns it frequently so it decomposes to become rich organic matter that is sprinkled over garden or container soil to enrich it.

How to Make a Turning Compost Bin

Step 1

Purchase a heavy-duty 35- to 55-gallon plastic barrel, drum or bin with a tight-fitting lid, or re-use an old spare one.

Step 2

Select a shaded area in your yard where you do not mind the odor of the compost bin. Place bricks to form a rectangle on the ground to house the bin when it is not being turned. Make sure they form a tight fit.

Step 3

Wear your protective eyeglasses and earplugs, and drill 1/8-inch to ½-inch holes throughout the body of the barrel, spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, including the lid and base. Drilling holes any bigger will allow the compost to seep out, while drilling them any smaller will prevent water, bugs or earthworms from seeping in to speed up the process of decomposition.

Step 4

Take a sharp knife and cut a straight slit in the center of the drum that is 12 inches long. Extend it down horizontally and then up vertically again, making sure each cut is 12 inches. You will now have a flap that opens and closes at a hinge, which will serve as the door to your turning compost bin to allow you to fill it with scraps.

Step 5

Measure down 6 inches from the top of the first vertical cut and drill a ½-inch hole in the center of the flap. Drill another ½-inch hole adjacent to the first one in the body of the barrel. String a piece of leather cord through both the holes, or insert some wire that will keep the flap closed securely.

Step 6

Fill the bin with kitchen and garden scrap, alternating between layers of "brown waste," which includes old twigs and branches, shredded brown paper bags, ash, wood, coffee filters and egg shells; and "green waste," which includes manure, leaf clippings and food scraps. Wet the contents to a moist consistency and tie the leather cord tightly, or twist the wire around several times so it does not open.

Step 7

Remove the front row of bricks from those placed on the ground and push the compost bin for four or five rotations along the garden. Roll it back to its place and replace the bricks.

Things You'll Need

  • Large drum or barrel
  • Bricks
  • Eyeglasses
  • Earplugs
  • Drilling machine
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring tape
  • Leather cord or wire


  • How to Make Compost
  • Composting Information
Keywords: compost bin, turning compost bin, homemade compost bin

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.