How to Compost in Aluminum Garbage Pails


There are many options in compost containers--from simple build-it-yourself plans to expensive, manufactured composting systems. One of the simplest bins to make only requires a power drill and an aluminum garbage pail. This bin takes up very little space in the garden and can even be moved into a garage or shed during the winter if preferred. Making a bin and using it allows you to turn your yard waste into rich compost. Use the compost as an amendment to improve your garden soil.

Step 1

Drill two rows of 1-inch holes in the bottom of the can, spacing the holes 4 inches apart. This allows excess moisture to drain from the composting materials.

Step 2

Drill three rows of 1-inch holes around the sides of the garbage pail. Space the holes 4 to 6 inches apart and space the rows equidistant from each other.

Step 3

Place two cinder blocks or bricks on the ground. Set the garbage pail on top the bricks. This allows space underneath for proper drainage.

Step 4

Place 2 to 3 inches of dry sawdust or straw on the bottom of the garbage pail. The sawdust aids drainage and air circulation around the bottom of the compost.

Step 5

Fill the can 2/3 full with dead leaves or dried grass clippings. Fill the rest of the can with green plant matter, such as grass clippings. Place a shovel full of compost on top or use a purchased compost starter.

Step 6

Sprinkle the compost with enough water just to moisten it. Mix the layers together evenly, then place the lid on top.

Step 7

Turn the compost once a week. Either use a shovel, shake the can, or secure the lid and roll it on its side. The compost will be finished in two to four months depending on temperature and how often you turn it.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear safety goggles and gloves when drilling. Bits may break when drilling aluminum.

Things You'll Need

  • Garbage pail
  • Drill
  • Bricks
  • Straw
  • Yard waste
  • Compost starter


  • University of Kentucky Extension: Contructing A Garbage Can Compost Bin
Keywords: composting yard waste, garbage pail compost bin, soil amendment

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.