How to make a small compost bin?

How to Make a Small Compost Bin

Composting is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. If you have limited space or want to compost on a smaller scale, a small compost bin is the perfect solution. In this article, we will explore the steps and materials needed to make a small compost bin, as well as provide tips on how to maintain it for optimal results.

Materials for a Small Compost Bin

Before we dive into the process of building a small compost bin, it’s important to gather the necessary materials. According to The Spruce, some of the best materials for a small compost bin include:

  • Crushed eggshells
  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Hay and straw
  • Nutshells
  • Old vegetables
  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Stale bread

DIY Small Compost Bin Plans

If you prefer a do-it-yourself approach, there are various compost bin plans available. The Spruce provides a comprehensive list of 15 DIY compost bin plans, including:

  • Worm bin
  • Trash can compost bin
  • Pallet compost bin
  • Wooden compost bin
  • Wire fence compost bin
  • Tote compost bin
  • Straw bale compost bin
  • DIY compost tumbler
  • Plastic storage container compost bin
  • Dig-and-drop composting
  • Trench composting
  • Hot composting
  • Old dresser drawer compost bin
  • Bokashi bucket composting
  • DIY compost screen

Building a DIY Small Compost Bin

If you’re interested in building your own small compost bin, you can follow a detailed tutorial provided by Practically Functional. The tutorial includes step-by-step instructions and diagrams, as well as a list of materials you’ll need:

  • Lumber (2×6, 2×4, 2×2)
  • Hardware cloth or chicken wire
  • Screws
  • Polycarbonate panel
  • Gate handles
  • Hinges
  • Latch post safety hasps
  • Corner braces

The tutorial emphasizes the importance of features such as easy access to add compost, latches to keep critters out, access to the finished compost, and good airflow.

Maintaining a Small Compost Bin

Now that you have your small compost bin set up, it’s essential to know how to maintain it properly. The following steps, sourced from Freckled Californian, will guide you through the process:

  1. Add a balanced mix of green and brown materials. Aim for a 1:1 ratio of greens (nitrogen-rich materials like kitchen scraps and grass clippings) to browns (carbon-rich materials like dead leaves and cardboard).
  2. Turn the compost regularly to introduce air and speed up the decomposition process. This can be done by using a pitchfork or shovel to mix the contents of the bin.
  3. Keep the compost moist, but not overly wet. If the compost becomes too dry, add water to maintain proper moisture levels.
  4. Avoid adding dairy, meat, cooked food, plants with diseases, or animal manure from animals treated with antibiotics/medicine to the compost bin.
  5. Monitor the temperature of the compost. Ideally, the temperature should be between 120-160°F (49-71°C) for optimal decomposition. Adjust the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio if the compost is not heating up or if it becomes too hot.
  6. Regularly check for any signs of pests or odors. If pests are a problem, consider covering the compost with a layer of straw or using a compost bin with a secure lid.
  7. Harvest the finished compost when it has turned into dark, crumbly soil-like material. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the composting method and conditions.


Creating a small compost bin is a rewarding and sustainable way to reduce waste and produce nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Whether you choose to build a DIY compost bin or opt for a pre-made option, following the proper maintenance steps will ensure successful composting. Remember to balance the ratio of green and brown materials, turn the compost regularly, maintain proper moisture levels, and monitor the temperature. By implementing these practices, you’ll be well on your way to producing your own rich compost for a thriving garden.

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Q: What are the benefits of having a small compost bin?

Having a small compost bin allows you to convert your kitchen and yard waste into nutrient-rich compost, which can be used to enrich your soil and promote healthy plant growth. Composting also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

Q: What materials do I need to make a small compost bin?

To make a small compost bin, you will need a container (such as a plastic bin or wooden box), organic matter (such as kitchen scraps and yard waste), soil, and a mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. It’s important to use eco-friendly and readily available materials to ensure sustainable composting.

Q: How do I maintain a small compost bin?

To maintain a small compost bin, regularly turn the compost to promote decomposition, ensuring proper aeration. It’s also important to maintain proper moisture levels by watering the compost when it becomes dry. Additionally, keep an eye on the compost temperature and adjust as needed. With proper maintenance, you can achieve successful composting in a small bin.

Q: What are some common issues when making a small compost bin, and how can I troubleshoot them?

Common issues when making a small compost bin include odor, pests, and slow decomposition. To address odor, ensure you have a proper balance of green and brown materials and avoid adding meat or dairy products. To prevent pests, cover the bin with a tight-fitting lid and avoid adding oily or fatty foods. If decomposition is slow, check the moisture levels and adjust accordingly, ensuring the right balance of nitrogen and carbon-rich materials.

Q: Why should I start composting and explore other related topics?

Composting is a simple and effective way to reduce waste, improve soil health, and contribute to a more sustainable environment. By starting composting, you can actively participate in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating healthier ecosystems. Exploring other related topics such as compost tea, vermicomposting, or using compost in gardening can further enhance your understanding and skills in sustainable gardening practices.