How to Make a Compost Bin From a Trash Can


Compost is the process by which organic material is broken down naturally to create soil. Compost provides plants with valuable nutrients and promotes good drainage. Composting is also a great way to recycle everyday organic waste, reducing the amount of garbage that goes into landfills, thereby helping the environment. Not everyone, however, has the space or the resources to build compost bins. A compost bin, however, can be made quite cheaply by using a common black plastic trash can, which also does not take up a lot of room.

Step 1

Drill holes in the bottom and around the sides 4 to 6 inches from the bottom of the trash can. You do not want your compost to have standing water, which will cause the soil to sour. The holes in the bottom will allow the water to drain out of the trash can, while the holes around the sides will allow air flow.

Step 2

Place the trash can on a stand made with a couple of cinder blocks or about 4 bricks. This will raise the trash can off the ground enough to allow good drainage.

Step 3

Pour a thin layer (1 or 2 inches) of compost or composted manure, which can be purchased in bags at any garden center, in the bottom of your trash can. Cover. You are now ready to begin composting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never put meat scraps into your compost bin. Do not put rose clippings into your compost. These carry various fungal diseases that can be transmitted to your compost. Always place your compost bin in a sunny area. Heat speeds up the process. This is why a black plastic trash can is recommended, since it conducts heat better. Also, the heat generated within the compost bin itself kills harmful bacteria and weed seeds that have found their way into your compost.

Things You'll Need

  • 32-gallon or large black plastic trash can with lid
  • Drill
  • 2 cinder blocks (or 4 bricks)
  • 1 bag of compost or composted manure


  • "Flower Gardening 1-2-3;" James D. Blume, editor; 2003
Keywords: compost, how to make a compost bin from a trash can, how to make an inexpensive compost bin, making a compost bin using a trash can, using a trash can to make a compost bin

About this Author

Dena Bolton has written for local newspapers and magazines since 1980. She currently writes online for various sites, focusing on gardening. She has a BA in Political Science and German and graduate credits in Latin American Studies from East Tennessee State University. In addition, she is a TN Master Gardener.