Compost Bins Fact Sheet


Compost bins turn kitchen scraps and garden trimmings into rich organic matter. This compost is full of vital nutrients and can be directly mixed with garden soil. The process is easy, free and good for the environment. Compost can be used to enrich garden plants, lawns, trees, shrubs and houseplants.


Compost bins can be purchased or constructed from a variety of materials. A garbage can or an old refrigerator can serve well as a compost bin. Remember to build open slats or punch air holes to allow oxygen to circulate freely.


A compost bin must retain significant heat and moisture to properly decompose usable wastes. Hosing down the bin will help to achieve necessary dampness. Absorbent material, such as sawdust, peat or hay can be applied if the pile becomes too damp after heavy rain.


Shredding or chopping usable kitchen wastes before placing them in the bin will accelerate the decomposing process. Branches, stems and hedge trimmings will do better if they are ground or even burned to ashes.

Time Frame

Compost material should be turned on a regular basis to provide oxygen for the organisms that induce decomposition. Poke holes into large additions to help air to circulate. Regularly turning compost bins will decompose matter in about three to 18 months. Composting without turning could take up to six months.


Compost piles should have a fresh, sweet odor. A bad-smelling pile indicates a lack of oxygen. In this case, dry, carbon-rich matter such as dead leaves or sawdust can be added to the pile. A layer of garden soil will also help to disguise odors. Micro-organisms in the soil will also accelerate the composting process.


With the exception of eggshells, animal products should not be placed in the compost bin. Likewise, diseased plant matter should not be included because it will contaminate the processing compost.


  • "1001 Hints & Tips for Your Garden;" Reader's Digest Association; 1996
  • University of Missouri Extension: How to Build a Compost Bin
  • Eartheasy: Composting
Keywords: compost bins, decomposing kitchen wastes, how long does it take to compost

About this Author

Loraine Degraff has been a writer and educator since 1999. She recently began focusing on topics pertaining to health and environmental issues. She is published in "Healthy Life Place" and "Humdinger" and also writes for Suite101. Degraff holds a Master's degree in Communications Design from Pratt Institute.