How to Make a Homemade Compost Tumbler


Using a tumbling container for composting cuts down the amount of work needed to maintain a healthy compost pile. A tumbler takes away the back-breaking process of turning the pile with a shovel or pitchfork. It can also reduce odors, and eliminate the need for loading compost into a wheelbarrow, since the tumbler can be used to transport the compost. Commercially designed compost tumblers can be expensive, however, overriding the cost-savings of making your own compost.

Step 1

Choose a barrel or trash can with a lid that secures tightly and is at least 55 gallons. A container that is too small will not allow the necessary air circulation or heat buildup for composting.

Step 2

Clean the barrel or trash can thoroughly if it has been previously used for other purposes by spraying away any residue that could cause odors. Use a biodegradable detergent, if necessary.

Step 3

Drill holes about 6 to 8 inches apart around the entire container.

Step 4

Drill several holes in the lid, staying near the center, and not placing any too close to the edge that could weaken the lid.

Step 5

Roll the container through the yard or garden as necessary, or about once per week, by turning it on its side and pushing to mix the compost.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't drill holes that are too large. While some air circulation is desirable, you also want heat to build up in the container to speed up the composting process.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic barrel or trash can with lid
  • Garden hose
  • Water
  • Biodegradable detergent (optional)
  • Drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit


  • Compost Tumbler
Keywords: homemade compost tumbler, diy composting tumbler, make your own compost tumbler

About this Author

Carlye Jones is a journalist, freelance writer, photographer and novelist, with more than 15 years of experience. She enjoys sharing her expertise on home improvements, interior decorating, photography, gardening and traveling. Her work has appeared both in print and on numerous websites, such as Matador Travel. Carlye received her training at Northern Arizona University.