How to Use a Compost Tumbler Bin


Compost tumbler bins are an asset for the gardener with limited space and time. Compost tumblers come in several forms and sizes from a compact unit that can be placed on a porch or deck to a large unit that can hold materials from a full-size garden, lawn and kitchen. The tumbler is easy to use and speeds the decomposition process which can result in a richer compost. Materials are well contained within the closed hollow tumbler. It is an ideal set up for a gardener or an eco-friendly homeowner who lives in a restricted area that bans open composting bins.

Step 1

Set up your new compost tumbler according to the product instructions. If you have a second-hand compost tumbler look for the manufacturer's name on the product and check out the company website for contact information.

Step 2

Pour in a quart or two of finished compost or a measurement of compost activator according to package directions. This is needed to give your compost a kick start.

Step 3

Toss in brown carbon-rich dried leaves and untreated sawdust or wood chips. Twigs can be chipped up and added into the brown matter. You need twice as much brown material as green material when using a tumbler bin.

Step 4

Add in green nitrogen components including coffee grounds, grass clippings, organic kitchen scraps and green trimmings from shrubbery.

Step 5

Crush any egg or crustacean shells and drop them into the tumbler. Sprinkle the pile with water to moisten the contents. Don't overdo the water; a wet pile will clump up and slow the process drastically.

Step 6

Close the tumbler lid securely. Tumble the compost daily using one or two turns or as directed for the particular model.

Step 7

Check the compost after a few weeks. If the matter has broken down and has the appearance of dark soil you are finished with your first batch. Remove the compost per container instructions. If there are no instructions you should be able to turn the unit to spill the finished compost into a wheelbarrow or bucket. Leave some finished compost inside the tumbler to help activate your next batch.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not ever add meat to a tumbler bin. Do not add salted foods to a compost tumbler as the salt will kill the micro-organisms that break down the materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden spade
  • Compost activator or finished compost


  • The Organic Gardener: Composting on the Move3
  • Organic Compost Tumbler: Composting Basics

Who Can Help

  • Patio Compost Tumbler
Keywords: compost tumbler, organic compost, compost unit

About this Author

Suzie Faloon is a freelance writer who has written ad copy and online content for Demand Studios and Associated Content. As a professional crafter and floral designer, Faloon owned a florist business for nearly 25 years. She completed the Institute of Chilldren's Literature course in 1988.