How to Build a Compost Tumbler Out of a Garbage Bin


A compost tumbler allows a homeowner to create rich compost at home with kitchen and yard scrap. This also reduces the amount of household waste that takes up unnecessary space in landfills, thus doing the environment a favor. A compost bin does not need to be made from expensive material. You can use an old or spare garbage bin to create this 'black gold' that is packed with essential nutrients and greatly improves the quality and condition of garden and container soil.

Step 1

Purchase a 20- to 55-gallon heavyweight plastic garbage bin with a tight fitting lid. You can reuse an old one at home, but wash it thoroughly with hot soapy water.

Step 2

Wear your earplugs and drill ½-inch holes throughout the body of the bin, spaced 2 to 4 inches apart. Make sure you drill holes in the base of the bin and the lid as well. These holes will help aerate the contents inside and allow worms and insects to enter, thus speeding up the decomposition process.

Step 3

Select a suitable place in your garden or backyard where you want to place your compost bin. Ideally, it should be near your kitchen so you can walk a short distance to fill it with leftover food, especially in inclement weather. Demarcate the place by laying bricks on the ground in a rectangle, ensuring they are placed just wide enough to contain the bin when it is not being rolled across the yard or garden.

Step 4

Cut a rectangular opening in the body of the bin with a sharp knife or saw. It should be large enough to permit a standard shovel to enter and fill with heaps of scrap, or take out ready compost. Hold the bin steady as you cut.

Step 5

View both sets of hinges to determine how many holes you need to drill to attach it to the cut rectangular piece. Attach the appropriate drill bits to the drilling machine and drill holes on both sides of the piece. Attach the hinges to the holes with screws, and then place the piece back on the opening in the body of the bin. Extend the hinges across and secure their other ends to the bin with screws.

Step 6

Attach the hasp closure to the other side of the rectangular piece, in the center of both the hinges. Secure it in place with screws. Insert a 4-inch leather cord or wire through the hasp which you can wind or knot to prevent the rectangular door of the bin from opening.

Step 7

Fill the bin with alternating layers of green and brown kitchen waste. Greens include leaf and grass clippings, while browns include shredded brown paper bags and cardboard, coffee filters, dried leaves and tree branches or twigs. Moisten the contents with a garden hose and secure the hasp closure.

Step 8

Lay the bin on its side and roll it across the yard to ensure the contents mix well.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic garbage can
  • Liquid soap
  • Sponge
  • Drilling machine
  • Earplugs
  • Bricks
  • Sharp knife
  • Two hinges
  • Screws
  • Hasp closure
  • 6-inch leather cord
  • Kitchen and yard scrap


  • Compost Bin
  • Comosting Information
Keywords: compost tumbler, garbage bin compost tumbler, creating homemade compost

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.