How to Make a Compost Bin Out of a Trash Can


Homemade compost improves soil structure, reduces water loss and supplies nutrients that keep your garden healthy. Compost also reduces the amount of trash that goes to landfills. It's not necessary to spend a lot of money to start your own compost system. A compost bin can be made from a trash can for little or no cost.

Step 1

Cut off the bottom of your trash can. A saw will make it easier to cut through thicker types of plastic, but a utility knife can do the job.

Step 2

Drill holes with your hand drill around all sides of the trash can. Make sure to evenly space them around the top and bottom of your trash can. Make about 30 to 40 holes in a large trash can.

Step 3

Select an area in your yard to place your compost bin. Use your shovel to loosen the soil to about 1 ½ or 2 feet deep. Dig a hole wide enough to hold your trash can.

Step 4

Bury the trash can to a depth of about 1 foot into the soil. Push the soil around the sides to hold it securely in place.

Step 5

Add about ½ foot of soil to your compost bin to keep it moist, and then add kitchen scraps, yard clippings and leaves.

Step 6

Use a pitchfork or shovel to turn your compost every two weeks. Keep your compost covered with the trash can lid.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic trash can with lid
  • Utility knife or hand saw
  • Drill with ¼ to ½ inch bit
  • Shovel
  • Soil
  • Pitchfork (optional)


  • Backyard Landscaping: Compost Bin
  • Trash Can Compost Bin
  • Benefits of Compost
Keywords: composting, make fertilizer, garden compost

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for over 15 years. Coe is the former publisher of the politics and art magazine Flesh from Ashes. She has worked to protect water and air quality. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University.