Making a free compost bin is super simple and effective. While there are tons of varieties of compost bins on the market with different features (bins that tumble your compost, bins that have little doors and windows, etc.) making a plain compost bin gets the job done. I personally prefer the homemade variety for a few reasons. One is that they’re larger. Large means more garbage is being converted to dirt. I also like being able to easily access the pile (to turn it) and the homemade variety gives you easier access to the compost. Lastly, of course, free is better than spending upwards of $100 or more. So, the homemade compost bins wins in my book every time.
And it’s easy to make.
Making a Compost Bin from Pallets
My favorite way to make homemade compost bins is by gathering used pallets for free. While pallets have become somewhat of a ‘hot item’ these days because of all their potential re-purposing, they still are easy to find for free because they’re so abundant. Great places to look for free pallets are places like Craigslist, Freecycle, local for sale sites (like on Facebook), warehouse type businesses that deal with pallets on a daily basis. The first batch I brought home (10 of them) came from a warehouse that published a free ad on Craigslist. I had to watch for a couple of days before the ad came up, but there ARE pallets out there that you can get for free. Truly, there really are!
Before you pick up your free pallets, you’ll need to decide if you want a single or double bin. For a single, you’ll only need 4 pallets, for a double bin, you’ll need 7. Whether you do a single or double bin is a matter of preference, and possibly space (where you will place it).
The other materials you’ll need are: a few long screws, and some wire.
And a location to set it up (I have one set up on the far side of the carport where my firewood is stacked and another set up a few yards down the driveway along the fence line). You want it close enough you will use it, but yet not right on top of your living space. (I have friends who set them up in their garden so they can throw their weeds and rotten vegetables in to the bin right there).
Putting it Together
Once you locate a place for your compost bin, you can level it of you’d like (I never do but I know some people like to do that). Then, set up your pallets like a box (made of 4 pallets) with all sides overlapping a bit. If you’re making a double compost bin, it will share one wall with the first bin (which is why you only need 7 pallets instead of 8). Screw three of the 4 sides together to create a u shape. Add the other 2 pallets, sharing one wall of the first box, to get an E shaped structure using 5 of the pallets total. The last 2 pallets will serve as ‘doors’ and are wired on to the front so that they can easily be removed to dig around in the bin, turn the compost, etc. It’s also nice to have a full wall sized door when you’re ready to remove the dirt you’ve made. Simply remove the door, and pull up your wheelbarrow for easy access to the great homemade dirt you’ve made.
A nice feature about having a pallet bin is that it gives plenty of ‘airing out’ space to help keep the smell down.
Here’s some information on keeping the smell down on your compost bin.
And some tips on what to put in your compost bin (as well as what to keep out of it).