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How to Make Compost Bins From Barrels

By Kenneth Crawford ; Updated September 21, 2017

When you learn how to make compost bins from barrels you can easily create nutrient-rich compost for your garden and houseplants. Well-stocked hardware stores and nurseries sell PVC plastic barrels and drums in all sizes. The important step of making a compost bin using a barrel is having a small hatch to retrieve the richest compost from the bottom of the barrel.

Clean the inside of the barrel and barrel lid if you are using a used barrel.

Mark and outline the location of the hatch with a tape measure. A hatch is used to remove small amounts of compost to use on your garden or houseplants. It should be big enough for a small hand garden shovel and about 6-inches from the bottom of the barrel. A good size hatch is 12-by-8 inches.

Draw a rectangle box from your measurement onto the barrel. Use a drill and jigsaw to cut the traced box out.

Place the piano hinge on your cut-out and drill holes for the attaching screws. Attach the hinge to the cut-out with the supplied hardware.

Set the cut-out back into place on the barrel and drill the holes out for the hinge to attach to the barrel. Attach the hinge to the barrel using the supplied hardware.

Install the swing clasp on the barrel below the hatch so that when you turn the clasp the hatch will stay shut.

Use a ΒΌ-inch drill bit to drill six rows of holes through the entire circumference of the barrel. This will allow air to circulate inside the barrel.

Set the compost barrel on four flat cinder blocks that form a pad for the bin. Use a 4-foot level and make sure that the bin is level.


Things You Will Need

  • 55-gallon plastic barrel with lid
  • Tape measure
  • Drill with bits
  • Jigsaw
  • Piano hinge
  • Clasp
  • Wrench set
  • Screwdriver
  • Garden hex netting
  • 4 flat cinder block
  • 4-foot level

About the Author


Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.