Compost isn’t called “black gold” for nothing — but a compost heap isn’t exactly a luxe look for your yard. If you’re looking for an alternative to a pile that lets it all hang out, you’re in luck. Making a compost bin is an easy DIY project that nearly anyone can accomplish in just a couple hours.

“Compost bins don’t have to be elaborate in order to work. A bin could be made with old pallets, cinder blocks or something similar….just as long as the pile is larger than 3 feet high so the pile can heat up adequately and breakdown is fairly efficient.”

Donna Aufdenberg | University of Missouri Extension

Below, we’ll show you how to make two different bin styles. Whichever style you choose, just follow these simple instructions to make a homemade compost bin you’ll be proud of.

How to Make a Wire Compost Bin

Two Wire Compost Bins

What Supplies You’ll Need for a Wire Bin

To build this bin, you’ll need:

  • 10 feet of chicken wire. (Opt for galvanized chicken wire if possible — it’ll last longer).
  • Heavy-duty wire to use as ties.
  • 4 wood posts.
  • Wire snips.
  • Hammer.
  • Pliers.

Follow These Steps to Build Your Wire Compost Bin

  1. Choose a spot for your bin and stand the chicken wire in a circle.
  2. Using wire snips, cut your heavy-duty wire into ties.
  3. Use pliers to bend about 3 inches of the chicken wire back on each end of the circle, clamping them into a cleaner, sturdier edge for easy tying.
  4. Use the ties to attach the ends of the chicken wire circle together. Then use pliers to get a tight clamp.
  5. Place the posts inside the circle, spaced as evenly as possible.
  6. Have a helper hold each post tightly against the chicken wire while you drive the post into the ground with a hammer.

Couldn’t be simpler! Turning can be difficult with this style of bin, but if you keep a good mixture of “green” and “brown” materials in your pile and don’t let it get too dry, you’ll still end up with rich compost even without turning.

“You can test if compost is ready to use. Take a scoop full of compost and plant several bean seeds in it. If the bean seeds sprout and grow, the compost is ready to use. If the bean seeds fail to come up or live long, the compost needs more time to “cook.”

Donna Aufdenberg | University of Missouri Extension

How to Build a Wood Slat Compost Bin

Two Homemade Wooden Compost Bins

What Supplies You’ll Need for a Wood Slat Bin

To make this easy DIY bin, you’ll need:

  •  7 pieces of 2×6 lumber, each 3 feet long. Make sure to choose untreated lumber.
  • 4 sturdy wooden stakes, each 3 feet long.
  • Galvanized nails, at least 2 ¾ inches long.
  • Hammer.

“Untreated lumber is what you want for your bin. Treated lumber you want to avoid. Treated lumber is embedded with chemicals which may leach into your garden soil.”

Greg Seaman | Eartheasy

Follow These Steps to Build Your Wood Slat Compost Bin

  1. Construct the sides of your bin by nailing 2x6s to the stakes, using at least two nails on each end of the 2x6s.
  2. Use two 2x6s for each side of the bin and one 2X6 for the front. This will leave an opening to make turning your compost easier.
  3. Leave a gap of about 3 inches between the slats and leave several inches of stake free at the bottom to be driven into the ground.
  4. Once everything is nailed together, set your bin in place and use your hammer to drive the stakes firmly into the ground.

Another super simple way to get yourself composting in style! A smart tip from Eartheasy: build two of these bins and set them up beside each other. This allows you to turn your compost by simply shoveling the pile into the neighboring bin — much easier than trying to turn a pile within a single bin.

“Once your compost is ready, a rule of thumb I use is one shovel-full of organic matter (compost) for every square foot, mixed in with the native soil. This will build life in the soil, attract beneficial microbes for healthy plant life that will help resist pests and disease, and also help retain about 30 percent more moisture to reduce frequent watering.”

Bob Lawson | Kellog Garden Products

Not Feeling the DIY Route?

While these homemade compost bins are incredibly easy to build, there are plenty of store-bought versions out there, too. If you decide to buy your compost bin, Greg Seaman of Eartheasy recommends choosing a tumbler bin.

“The easiest way to turn compost is to use a tumbler-style composter. These are mounted on an axis, elevated from the ground, and sealed by one or two doors depending on the model. Compost tumblers are also pest proof, which is an advantage since pests are naturally attracted to compost.”

Greg Seaman | Eartheasy

See? There’s nothing but a few pieces of lumber and maybe some chicken wire standing between you and all that sweet black gold. Looking for other simple ways to go green? Check out the Green Living section of our blog.