Looking for some options for a DIY compost bin? Check out these great options for one, two, and three bin compost plans.
Be sure to read to the end for tips for making the best possible compost, and ideas for nixing the plans altogether and free-styling a compost system that works for you.
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Three Bin Compost Plans
Three Bin Compost Plans from Instructables
Instructables, a website that breaks down nearly anything into step-by-step guides has plans for a three-bin compost system. Like always, easy steps and lots of pictures will help you follow along.
Modern Farmer’s Three Bin System
Another pallet-based plan, Modern Farmer teaches you to construct a three-bin compost system.
This publication by the University of Missouri’s Agricultural Extension has a lot of great information on composting and compost bins, but we’re especially impressed with their three-bin compost plans. And if you don’t want to bite off such a large project, this is still a great document to check out as they have plans that require minimal supplies, like the Wire-Mesh Holding Unit.
Joe Gardener’s Three Bin Compost Plans with Video
If you’re wondering if your three-bin system made from pallets will last, try these plans which the builder has used for the better part of a decade.
Two Bin Compost Plans
Here is a two-bin plan that also doubles as great practice for beginner woodworkers. A saw and a drill will be enough to get you through, and there’s some wiggle room on precision, so the stakes aren’t too high. What’s more, this site also includes helpful video instructions if you prefer to learn that way.
Speaking of beginner woodworkers, I am one, and really love this brand’s (Kreg) tools to make big projects achievable. So when I saw they had plans for double compost bins, I knew it would be worth checking out.
One Bin Compost Plans
Smart Single Bin Compost System
We generally suggest having a compost system with multiple compartments, however, Practically Functional thought of everything when coming up with this one-bin design. It has all the highlights: an opening on top for new stuff, an opening on the bottom to remove soil, and chicken wire that keeps rodents out, and lets air and worms in.
Easy Compost Plans from Salvaged Materials
Three simple plans from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality include a garbage can compost bin, one made from wire mesh, and a personal favorite, a compost bin made from wood pallets. (Because despite what Pinterest leads you to believe, those suckers are NOT easy to dismantle!) And while all the plans are for one-bin systems, they’d be easy to double or triple to suit your needs!
DIY Compost Bin
If I could impart one piece of wisdom, is that composing is not an exact science, and it’s not that hard. There’s plenty of room for correction if you don’t completely nail it the first time.
Pile too smelly? Add more browns. Pile not decomposing? Add more greens. Cooking time varies by region and is dependent on temperature, and no one’s yard and kitchen scraps will match exactly, and thus no two piles will be the same.
So with all that being said, you can get a little loose on making compost bins as well. Other materials that are popular for freestyling a compost system include:
- garbage cans
- plastic storage tubs
If you use a plastic garbage can or tub, be sure to drill plenty of holes for drainage and air circulation. I’ve seen great systems made of garbage bins that can be rolled around to aerate after scraps are added. Just make sure that lid is secure!
(Don’t skip this step. That circulating air is crucial to kickstart the decomposition process!)
More Composting Questions Answered
We get it – composting can be an intimidating undertaking. Here are more Judgement-Free Green composting posts to help ease the transition:
- Can I Compost That? Surprising things you can toss in your compost pile
- Bokashi Composting All about indoor composting, to really cut down on your food waste
- How To Re-Use Juicer Pulp for Zero-Waste Juicing If you’re into reducing waste, here are options to use scraps before they hit the composter
And here are some more questions about outdoor composting systems:
How do you compost with multiple bins?
Using multiple bins to compost essentially is honoring the composting process. To start, add nitrogen rich or “green” material (fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, fresh grass clippings etc.) to carbon rich or “brown” material (shredded newspaper, dried leaves, etc.) to your pile.
In the first phase of composting, add these materials to your pile and rotate them often (every few days) with a pitch fork or shovel. In this phase you can regularly add materials and rotate.
However, at some point you’ll need to move to phase two. This is when the compost “cooks” and should remain relatively undisturbed. (Some turning is okay, and is suggested if your pile starts to smell.) Nothing gets added at this time, it’s only job is to heat up and break down.
See the magic for the multi-bin system? Once your compost enters its second phase, it’s helpful to have an open compartment to start the process all over. New scraps can go into a separate bin while nature has its way with old scraps.
Is it best to have 2 compost bins?
It’s best to have at least two bins. I personally use a compost tumbler (this exact one, which I’ve had for about 4 years) and find the dual compartments serve me well. As described above, having a second bin will allow one batch to cook while you start a new one.
Unlike my small tumbler, though, if you’re using bins, you’ll likely have more space to work with. More scraps, more compost, and a larger process. With all that extra, a third bin will allow you to store the actual compost while you’re gathering scraps (phase 1) and cooking (phase 2).
So get composting! Let us know your composting success stories or questions below, and we’ll all get growing together.