How to Build a Compost Bin

Two Easy-to-Build Compost Bins for Outside Use – How to Build a Compost Bin

With the obvious exception of man-made materials, the earth does not waste anything. Natural organisms such as plants, animals and fish are recycled by the earth once they have died. The decayed material is then used as fertilizer or food for other organisms.

Many people who want to have a compost bin do not want it in the house due to the danger of attracting pests. Smell is also a detracting factor.

If this is you, an outside bin is your answer.

TIP: Place household scraps under a thin layer of soil or other material to reduce flies and reduce or eliminate odors. Don’t use meat, grease or heavily chemically-treated materials in a compost pile.


  • Galvanized lumber nails 2 3/4”
  • Chicken-wire fence
  • Four wooden shipping pallets

NOTE: Use ONLY galvanized lumber nails and/or screws for outdoor projects

How to Build a Compost BinThe easiest way to construct a compost bin is to begin with four wooden shipping pallets. Shipping pallets are available at appliance stores, home improvement centers, groceries and many other places. Typically they will give them to you free of charge. Doing this will save you money as you will not have to purchase as much lumber and it will be sturdy.

If you choose to do this, simply arrange the wooden pallets into a squared box and nail them together. It is best to line the inside with chicken-wire fence to help contain the composting material. You will need to secure the bin to a building, fence or stake posts.

NOTE: All lumber which is to be used outdoors should be rated for outdoor use. Talk to your local lumber store employees to determine the best lumbar for your use. Wood for this project does not need to be treated and it can be unplaned (rough).

To build a rudimentary bin from scratch, you will need:

  • 7 – 2” x 6” x 12′ boards
  • 4 – 2” x 4” x 12′ boards
  • Galvanized lumber nails 2 3/4”
  • Chicken-wire fence

Building Your Bin

  1. Cut your 2” x 6” x 12′ boards cut into lengths of 3′ each (or have your lumber store cut them)
  2. Cut your 2” x 2” x 12′ boards cut into length of 4′ each (or have them cut)
  3. Using a chisel or hatchet, sharpen one end of each 2” x 2” for use as both the frame and stakes*
  4. Use the 2” x 6” boards as the walls of your bin. Leave space between each board for ventilation purposes. If the wood begins to split, pre-drill the nail holes. Be careful not to use too large of a bit.
  5. Line the bottom and sides with chicken-wire to help contain the composting material
  6. Place your bin where you want it and use a sledge hammer or other heavy hammer to pound the stakes into the ground.*

*NOTE: If you are going to secure the bin to a building or fence, you will not need stakes.

Need a Lid?

If you want to add a lid, there are a variety of ways to do it. You can build a lid separately and just lay it on top with something heavy on top or you can attach it with hinges. Hasps can also be added to keep the lid from flying up. Tin or plastic roofing materials will also work if you don’t want hinges.

Use 2” x 2” boards to form the frame of the lid and nail any type of board to the frame. Your top lid boards will need to be painted or treated if you use shelving board or plywood.

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