DIY Compost Bin

We try to do a lot of recycling here at Radiance Manor and I decided it was time for a compost bin as well. I didn’t really relish the thought of having a pile in the yard and the tumbling bins for sale are pretty pricey.  Also, always thinking on a budget and how to make do with what I have, I took note from an article I read on P Allen Smith’s site about making a bin out of an old garbage bin.

Nowadays — or at least around here, you hire your garbage service and they provide the bins for you. When we lived in Illinois 10+ years ago, we had to supply the bin for weekly pickup. Of course, we still had that large plastic bin and just kind of kept stuff in it for years, wondering if we would ever use it again. Turns out, it was perfect for what I was looking to do.


I took a 1/2 inch drill and just put a bunch of holes in the can. Kind of scary because once you go there, no turning back! This can is marked with a recycling #7, so it can always be cut up and put in our recycling bin if we want in the future. I also put 4 holes in the bottom for drainage and some in the top so rain water can get in there.

Then I proceeded to fill it up with yard waste. Browns and greens. Dried leaves, plant material, some dirt. The lid on this can kind of snaps into place, but you could easily use a bungee cord through a couple holes to hold it on. Now I can tip this can and roll it around on the ground.

compost can

Note the 2 pallets on the side there. They are just waiting for me to make a planter box of some sort out of them. Because one can never have too many projects, right? 

The nice thing about this can is that it has 2 wheels on it, which I don’t think you can see. That way I can move it around easily. The only thing I need to figure out now is a way to remove the compost at the bottom and leave the noncomposted stuff on top. Some sort of doorway. For now, I can just wait for it to be done ‘cooking’ and use it all or I suppose tip some out. I am almost thinking I need another one of these unless I want to dedicate a corner of the yard to an enclosed bin.

I will say that the worms love it. Any time I move the can, there are earthworms on the ground beneath it. Also, I can see them in the holes when I tip the can over and look at the bottom. Good stuff!

I also decided to compost more of our kitchen scraps. I have a little covered bucket under the sink that all of our compostable waste goes in, like coffee grounds (with paper filter), tea bags, banana peels, egg shells and any fruit and veggie scraps.


I put some newspaper in there to give it some brown and also to soak up moisture. The interesting thing is that this doesn’t really smell. Mostly because of what’s in it – it won’t get smelly. Then when it gets full, I take it out to the bin and dump it in there. It’s pretty surprising how much we can compost on a daily basis.

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4 thoughts on “DIY Compost Bin

  1. I started a compost bin mostly to get the wet stuff out of my regular garbage. I love recycling food and stuff this way. I’m also amazed at how it breaks down and compacts in the bin. My neighbor gave me a simple square plastic bin.

  2. I don’t make my own compost but we have a bin like that for this kind of trash. We have three bins at home: regular, veggies/garden and paper trash. And we have to separate plastic that is picked up every 2 weeks too. Next year they want us to recycle even more because the regular trash bin will disappear and we have to bring that to a collection point and pay for every time we dump something there.

    1. We are lucky here to have zero sort recycling. We can mix metal, glass, paper and plastic into the same bin and the facility sorts it. The easier they make it, the more likely people will do it. They pick up the recycling every other week and we really could use it weekly.

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