How to Compost in a 5-Gallon Bucket


Compost is decomposed organic matter that is considered black gold to gardeners. The compost is used as a natural fertilizer to increase the soil nutrient value once the decomposition process is completed. Using a 5-gallon bucket for composting is a low-cost and easy home composting method for a backyard gardener. The bucket method of composting will provide decomposed material in approximately two to three months.

Step 1

Purchase or obtain a 5-gallon bucket with a cover and handle. Wash the bucket thoroughly with soap and water to remove any residue.

Step 2

Attach the quarter-inch drill bit to your drill, and drill holes around the bottom edge of the bucket for liquid drainage. Drill additional holes randomly around the sides of the bucket for air circulation.

Step 3

Fill the bucket with organic material, starting with a thin layer of broken twigs on the bottom. Fill the bucket with alternating layers of brown and green material in even quantities. Too much green material will cause the compost to smell strong.

Step 4

Add a thin layer of garden soil over every other layer to introduce microorganisms to the compost. Lightly water the soil to moisten it without making it wet.

Step 5

Place the bucket with lid attached in a sunny location that has partial shade in the afternoon. The bucket contents need to warm up without getting too hot. This will initiate decomposition.

Step 6

Check the moisture periodically to make sure the contents do not dry out. Add a small amount of water to moisten if the contents appear dry.

Step 7

Roll the bucket periodically to mix the contents. This will increase air circulation and assist with decomposition.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon bucket with cover
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Drill
  • ¼-inch drill bit
  • Organic material
  • Garden soil


  • East Bay Food Not Bombs: The Joy of Composting
  • Sonoma County Waste Management Agency: Home Composting Bins
  • Composting 101
Keywords: 5-gallon bucket composting, easy compost bin, composting process

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.