How to Build a Compost Bin From Garbage Cans


Saving your kitchen and garden scraps to make compost for your garden is almost as simple as putting them in a heap in some out-of-the-way place. Many gardeners, however, prefer to keep their compost in a bin just to keep it looking neater and to make turning the compost easier. Commercial compost bins are widely available, but it's not necessary to spend a lot of money on a new bin when you can make a simple, practical bin out of an old garbage can.

Step 1

Use a garbage can with a lid. A plastic or aluminum garbage can will work fine, although a plastic can is more durable and will last longer.

Step 2

Drill holes in the garbage can. Use a hole saw attachment that's about 2 inches in diameter. Make two drainage holes in the bottom of the can and two holes in the lid so that rainwater can get in. Make more holes in the sides of the garbage can near the top and bottom. There should be at least a foot between the holes.

Step 3

Cover the holes with the type of fine-mesh fiberglass screen used for window screen repair. Cut pieces of screen larger than the holes you drilled. Stick the screen over the holes with hot glue. Be sure to put the screen on the inside of the can.

Step 4

Set the can on top of some bricks to keep it off the ground and allow water to drain out. This will also help keep a metal garbage can from rusting out on the bottom.

Step 5

Fill the can loosely with scraps from your kitchen and waste from your garden. If the can is packed too tightly, the compost won't turn well. To turn the compost, strap the garbage can lid down with the bungee cord and roll it around on the ground.

Step 6

Wait at least eight months for the scraps to become compost, turning the can every four to six weeks. If you fill one garbage can, make another and start filling it for even more compost.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not put animal or dairy products in your compost. These can carry dangerous bacteria and they attract vermin.

Things You'll Need

  • Garbage can with a lid
  • Drill with hole saw attachment
  • Fiberglass screen
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue
  • Bricks
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Garden waste
  • Bungee cord


  • Garbage Can Compost Bin

Who Can Help

  • Powering Down: Compost Happens
Keywords: garbage can compost bin, turn compost, compost in a bin