How to Build a Rotating Compost Barrel


Composting is a method of disposing of organic wastes from food and plant material. Compost added to the soil in your garden enhances the nutrients found in the soil and will help your plants thrive. Successful composting requires that the materials be rotated periodically to distribute the air inside the compost barrel and to effectively reduce the composting material. You can build your own rotating compost barrel from a large plastic garbage can and a few building materials.

Step 1

Select a commercial grade garbage can with a lid that snaps on and locks into place. Commercial grade garbage containers are more durable than residential grade containers as they are made from thicker plastic. To effectively produce compost, you will need a 32-gallon container, at least. It takes time for the organic material to reduce and you also need the room for air flow.

Step 2

Measure the overall height of the container, including the lid. Add 12 inches to the height of the container.

Step 3

Cut five 2x4 boards to this length. Make sure that the boards for this project are rated for outdoor use. Treated wood and cedar are good choices.

Step 4

Cut two 2x4s that measure 5-feet long.

Step 5

Place the two 5-foot boards side by side. Separate them by the length of the first boards that you cut. Build the frame for your rotating compost barrel by attaching three of the first boards perpendicular to the two 5-foot boards. Attach one board in the center and one on each end. Attach the boards together with metal plates held in place with decking screws. This structure is the platform for your rotating compost barrel.

Step 6

Create the sides that will hold your compost barrel suspended with the remaining two wood boards. Stand one board upright at a 90 degree angle in the center of each of the 5-foot boards on your platform frame. Attach the boards to the platform frame with metal plates and decking screws.

Step 7

Cut four 3-foot long sections of treated 2x4 boards. Cut the ends of each board at a 45-degree angle. These boards will brace the side posts of the rotating composter. Attach the boards on either side of the upright center boards and to the 5-foot boards on the platform frame. You are creating an A-frame brace. You can use decking screws and metal braces to attach the brace.

Step 8

Attach the lid to the garbage container. Measure 16 inches from the top and drill a 1/2-inch hole on one side of the container. Drill another 1/2-inch hole on the opposite sides of the container, also 16-inches from the top.

Step 9

Drill a 1/2-inch hole, 4 inches from the top of each upright center board. The holes are to place the rod that will allow your composter to rotate.

Step 10

Drill aeration holes over the lid and the plastic garbage container. Space the holes 3 inches apart.

Step 11

Measure the width of your garbage container between the holes. Add 16 inches. Cut a 1/2-inch-diameter steel rod equal to this measurement. Place the garbage container between the two side posts and insert the rod straight through all of the ½-inch holes.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial grade plastic garbage can
  • Measuring tape
  • Treated-wood boards
  • Saw
  • Metal plates
  • Screw driver and decking screws
  • 1/2-inch diameter steel rod
  • Drill and drill bit


  • Building a Compost Tumbler

Who Can Help

  • Building a Composter
Keywords: rotating composter, garbage container composter, compost barrel

About this Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost effective decorating solutions. As a content creator for Demand Studios and private clientele, Kat's work is featured on sites across the web. Kally holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.