Compost Bins

There are many ways to compost. You can compost materials in a heap, or you can use a bin to contain materials neatly and deter animals. The three basic types of compost bins are listed below. Choose your bin based on the space you have available for composting, the materials you want to compost, your budget and the amount of time you want to spend tending your pile.

Holding Units

Holding units are the simplest type of bin. You can construct your own using inexpensive or recycled wood and chicken wire.

These bins are most appropriate for composting leaves and yard waste. Simply add materials and leave them to decompose. This method requires little work, but it can take from six months to a year to make compost. You can speed the process by layering greens and browns and by keeping the pile moist.

Turning Units

Turning units are a series of two or more bins. They are appropriate for institutions, community gardens or households with large yards and high volumes of leaves and yard waste. Layer brown and green materials in the first bin and add water if needed. When the first bin is full, turn the pile into the second bin. New materials can then be put into the first bin. A third bin can be used for final curing. Turning the materials takes some effort, but it will help compost yard waste and kitchen scraps in a relatively short time.

Enclosed Bins

Enclosed bins are most appropriate for small yards. They will also deter animals, which is helpful if you are composting food scraps. You can construct an enclosed bin at home using a barrel or garbage can. If you make your own from a trash can, be sure to drill holes for ventillation. A variety of enclosed bins are also available through hardware and garden supply stores and mail order catalogs. If possible, layer or mix green and brown materials as you place them in the bin.

Most commercially available bins are designed to compost the food scraps generated by a typical household.

Visit BBG's Home Composting Exhibit

Various composting techniques and tools for home gardeners are on display. Stop by to see leaves and other organic materials in the process of decomposition, to learn a little about what a compost system needs, and to determine which bin might work best for you.

BBG Staff


March 20, 2014
Zipporah Portugal

I bought my composting bin from the Garden several years ago and need to purchase a new bin. Are you still selling these bins, and if not, could you advise where to purchase one for outside my building? Thank you.

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