How to Make Your Own Small Composter


Many urban and suburban dwellers would like to compost but feel that they do not have the room for a large composting bin or system. Composting can be done, however, in apartments as well as in small yards and can be used to produce soil additives for houseplants and container gardens or to simply cut down on the waste that is sent to landfills.

Step 1

Drill several holes using the drill and drill bits, into a plastic storage bin or clean 5-gallon bucket. If the bin is to be stored inside, restrict the holes to the bottom of the bin and the lid only. If the bin is to be stored outside, drill holes in the sides as well.

Step 2

For indoor bins, place the bin into a large plastic tray with no holes. Check all sides of the tray to be sure that the bin fits well inside the tray, preferably with a few inches of clearance on all sides. This is the catch tray for any liquids that may drain from the bin. If you will be storing your bin outdoors, this tray is no necessary.

Step 3

Place four half-brick pieces under the bin to raise it up and out of the drainage tray. Be sure that the bin is still evenly spaced above the tray so that all liquid drains into the tray. If the bin is going to be placed outdoors, the bricks are optional, depending on the drainage in the composting area. Compost bins should be able drain easily.

Step 4

Place composting materials into the bin, starting with dry (or brown) materials and alternating with wet (or green) layers.

Step 5

Sprinkle a cup or two of water over the materials to dampen the compost and mix the contents spread the moisture evenly through all materials.

Step 6

Place the lid onto the bin and secure it firmly. Open the lid and turn the contents once each week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use plant products only. Never use dairy, meat or oils in your compost bins as these will smell bad and attract vermin and pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic storage bin or 5 gallon bucket with lid
  • Drill and 1/4-inch drill bits
  • If storing inside:
  • Plastic tray
  • 2 bricks, broken in half


  • Ohio State Univ.: Composting Information
  • Univ. of Florida: Composting
  • Build Your Own Composting Bin: Chicago Home Composting
Keywords: build a composter, make a small composter, small compost bin

About this Author

Robin Lewis Montanye is a freelance artist, designer and writer. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, national magazines and on several self-help areas of the web. Montanye specializes in gardening articles with information from several universities. She has Internet articles published on, and