How to Build Cheap Compost Bin for Yard Waste


For many people, one of the most natural steps in reducing their carbon footprint on the earth is to start composting. Compost is an ultra-rich material made of decayed yard waste and food scraps that can eliminate the need for commercial fertilizers. When getting started, it's often overwhelming to see the expensive bins and tumblers and other tools sold, but for the true green experience, creating your own composter is best. One of the easiest and least expensive methods is to create a bin out of chicken wire or snow fencing material. It's simple, easy to move around to different areas of your garden and one of the best methods available for composting just yard waste, also known as cold composting. Cold composting is perfect for the gardener who simply wants a place to put yard waste to break down with no maintenance and no time frame on when the compost needs to be ready.

Step 1

Cut your fencing material to create a bin the size you desire. Because of the rolled way it is packaged, it will create a natural circular shape.

Step 2

Fasten the ends with clips. Lanyard type clips work well. Fasten with at least four or five clips from top to bottom.

Step 3

Sit the bin flat on the ground. You may wish to bury it a bit or place some rocks around the wire to help stabilize it. Driving a couple wooden stakes into the ground on opposites sides of the inside of the bin might be helpful if you live in a particularly windy or storm-prone area.

Step 4

Place a layer of twigs on the bottom of the bin. Twigs decompose slowly because of their mass and allow air to flow up through the bottom as well as water to drain. Add other yard .waste in layers.

Step 5

Cover the bin with a tarp to help promote heat buildup needed to "cook" your ingredients. Some heat has to be generated to promote decay, but, in cold composting, your pile will not get hot enough to kill weed seeds. A tarp also helps protect your compost from having all the nutrients washed away in the rain.

Tips and Warnings

  • Weeds and pet waste should never be added to your compost bin. Also, avoid table scraps or anything sprayed with chemicals. Do not compost plants that have had pesticides applied. Do not decompose leaves near where you plan on growing tomatoes. You will have to amend your soil or no fruit will grow because of the nutrient balance left by the compost.

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken wire or snow fencing
  • Clips
  • Wooden stakes (optional)
  • Tarp
  • Yard waste


  • Western Lake Superior Sanitary District: Compost Bin Construction .pdf
  • Colorado Extension Office: Composting Yard Waste
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service: Composting

Who Can Help

  • EPA: Composting
Keywords: compost, chicken wire composter, green living

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.