How to Make a $10 Compost Bin

How to Make a $10 DIY Compost Bin for Your Garden

You don’t need a fancy compost bin or a compost tumbler to get started. Make your own DIY compost bin for $10!

Composting is one of the best things you can do for your garden, but a compost bin can cost you anywhere from $50 to $300. I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to spend money unless needed. So, I figured out how to make a $10 compost bin – and it works.

Compost is the perfect soil amendment, and it’s free for you to make at home. A compost bin needs to have space for the dirt, scraps, and other items you add into it. It needs to have drainage holes and air circulation. Pretty simple, right?

Ready to make your $10 compost bin? Let’s get started!

Related: 15 Composting Tips for Beginners You Need to Get Started

Items Needed to Make a $10 Compost Bin

  • Rubbermaid Container
  • Knife, Box Cutter, or Drill
  • Duct Tape
  • Chicken Wire
  • Scissors

How to Make a D.I.Y Compost Bin

Here are the step-by-step instructions to follow. While I used a knife, you can use a drill. Mine happened to be dead when I decided to make this bin.

Poor planning on my end!

Step 1: Pick Your Compost Bin

First, find the container that you want. I had an extra Rubbermaid container that previously held children’s clothes waiting for my younger kids to get older.

You’ll find that it’s not so strange to make a DIY Rubbermaid compost bin! Make sure it’s, at least, 24 inches tall or taller, and it does need to have the lid as well. A lid is necessary to keep the dirt moist and all of the critters out of the bin.

Listen, I love Amazon, but these bins are way too pricey on there. Walmart has them for around $7, so make a trip into town.

Step 2: Poke Holes in Your Compost Bin

Once you have your container, poke holes in the bottom and sides of the container. I just cut some slits into the plastic with a sharp knife, but a drill should do the job as well.

Adding holes to the bottom of the bin is necessary for two purposes.

  • You need aeration (air movement) throughout your compost. You really don’t want to trap all of those scents into the bin.
  • The holes let water drip out of the bin.

Step 3: Fix The Lid

Next, cut a rectangle out of the lid. This provides plenty of airflow and lets you add water to the bin without needing to take off the lid. Plus, it keeps animals out of it.

As you can see, mine isn’t a perfect rectangle or close to perfect. I don’t know what happened there; I got a bit distracted with four kids running around.

Look at this toddler’s toes! So darn cute.

Cut the chicken wire to be a bit larger than the rectangle you cut. Using duct tape, secure it to the lid. Duct tape fixes everything, seriously.

I never said this was beautiful, just cheap!

You might be able to use a staple gun as well, depending on the staple gun that you have. Some are designed for plastic materials.

Step 4: Toss in Dirt and Create a Base

Now, you’re ready to start composting. Add dirt, fruit and veggie scraps, some dried leaves from your yard, and more. Just make sure to avoid these items in your compost; they do more harm than good.

Step 5: Toss in Your Food Scraps

Now it’s time to start composting kitchen waste. So many items that you have and use in your daily life are compost safe.

Worried that you’ll put something unsafe into your compost bin? Make a composting list!

Here are some green and brown materials for composting.

  • Eggshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea Leaves
  • Fruit Scraps
  • Veggie Scraps
  • Newspaper
  • Napkins
  • Lint
  • Old Wine
  • Leaves
  • Grass Clippings
  • Twigs
  • Shredded Brown Paper Bags
  • Corn Stalks
  • Coffee Filters
  • Straw
  • Peat Moss

Related: 15 Things You Should Never Compost

Step 6: Turn and Moisten

The last step is to moisten the materials and turn it with a shovel. It’s not a good idea to add TOO much water. If you add too much water, you can end up with a stinky compost bin.

Turning with a shovel is just as easy as it sounds. Use a shovel and turn the dirt around. You need to do this each time you add something to your bin, but that’s simple. Leave the shovel nearby. It only takes a few moments!

Picking the Right Area for Your Compost Bin

You want to pick a dry, shady spot in your yard for the best composting performance. At the same time, the location should be convenient for you, making it most likely that you’ll give your compost the care it needs. You don’t want to have to walk 1/4 mile to add to your compost bin.

Place your compost bin need a water source, making it easier to add moisture when needed.

You don’t want it in full sun or your compost will dry out too quickly. Composts, when done correctly, won’t stink, so you can keep it near your patio if needed. Ideally, your compost also will be in an area that is close to your garden.

Start Collecting Compost Materials

Now, you’re ready to start composting. It takes 3-4 months for your compost to turn into a finished product. You’ll want to add more of your kitchen waste and other items to the bin.

I like to keep a compost bucket on my countertop or under my sink. I don’t want to run out to the bin each time I use eggs or have veggie scraps.

These compost buckets use activated charcoal tabs to keep away any stink. When they’re full, dump them into the compost bin outside.

Easy peasy, right?

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  1. Thanks for the how-to guide! I know how compost bins can be super expensive. I, unfortunately, have no place for one in my flat. 🙁 It’s something I’d like to have if I live in a house though.

    1. Have you ever considered trying a worm compost bin? You can keep it under your kitchen sink and compost. Plus, vermicomposting is much faster than traditional composting. It’s great for those who live in apartments.

      1. I’m a Master Composter. It’s much better for a traditional compost bin to be open and above ground. It should be 3’×3’×3′ with equal amounted by volume of brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen) materials. I typically did 8 inches of brown to 2 inches of green. Leaving it open allows for evaporation of excess moisture, contact with the ground allows the microscopic decomposes to get into the pile and start the composting process. A properly constructed compost bin can easily reach an internal temperature of 140-160 degrees. I would encourage everyone to contact you local agricultural extension agency and take a Master Composter class. It’s fun and interesting!

    1. That won’t hurt it! As long as you have enough holes in the box and perhaps sit it up on bricks, you should be fine! Mine isn’t under a covered area and we don’t have issues. If it gets too wet, add some carbon items (brown materials) like shredded leaves, to soak it up.

    1. You’ll need something with a strong fitting lid. You could use a different type of rubbermaid container with locks on the handles and staple gun the wire to the lid. If you have a lot of critters, it might be good to watch your local BST boards for compost tumblers. I found several this summer for less than $30!

    2. If you google “critter-proof composter” you’ll find plans for a composter that has proven Bear-proof in our town. You have to buy the plans & it’s nowhere near as easy Or cheap as this Rubbermaid plan—but it will keep the critters out.

      Also, if you’re looking for something easier, more like this, I have a similar container for worm posting. That’s easy to find plans for online. I keep mine on my back porch, which is elevated enough from ground level so that it doesn’t bring critters. My friend just keeps hers outside by the house & doesn’t get a lot of critter interest in them, either. It’s important to keep a layer of brown material (I usually use ripped up corrugated cardboard) on top to keep the smells from attracting critters.

  2. How to keep away from ants and any insect since I live in the dorm so I am afraid of those insects and its smell. Thank you

    1. If I lived in a dorm or a small apartment, I would consider using a worm compost, known as vermicomposting. It’s virtually odorless, and you can put the box right under your kitchen sink cabinet. It’s perfect for small spaces!

    1. What I do is, at some point, I stop adding items and keep turning it. I let everything decompose then dump it out. A few chunks won’t hurt your garden. You can create multiple bins to space out when you stop composting and let it finish.

    1. Rats and critters are enticed by smell. Composting shouldn’t smell. If it does, that means you have too much nitrogen items (green items) instead of carbon. If I stick to good ratios, then I typically never have rodent issues. If you had a scent to your compost, try adding more shredded leaves, newspaper shreddings, cardboard pieces, or other carbon items (brown material) to your compost.

  3. Thanks for this! I’m going to try it! But it’s winter here in the Northeast and we get snow. Is that ok to have this outside in the snow?

    1. Yes! You might want to add some insulation around it, such as straw bales, and keep it protected from the winter elements

  4. How do you vermicompost under the sink?
    I have what I call a “muck bucket” under the sink in which I throw my eggshells, coffee grounds, banana peels, vegetable peels etc. We have winter so I am unable to store anything outside.

    1. You would need to create a worm compost bin, which isn’t the same as a regular compost bin. Worms need bedding added, then you toss in the scraps. Vermicomposting has little to no smell, so you can compost inside without any issue.

    1. No. I water maybe once a week, but if you live in a really hot or dry climate, then you would need to water more. If it looks dry, water it. There is no perfect solution. Compost needs to be moist but not soggy. Add water and turn it over with your shovel. If it still looks dry, add some more again. You can always fix it if you add too much water by adding some newspaper, cardboard or other brown materials.

    1. Manure is always great for composting! However, you need to make sure you plan it right otherwise you’ll burn your plants. Most manure needs to compost for 6 months, so you’ll need to be sure if you add it in, you give the manure plenty of time to compost. All of the nitrogen is risky but oh so beneficial.

      I use the deep litter method for chicken keeping. In the spring (actually next week) I will be clearing out the chicken coop. Then, I put that in a large compost pile behind the coop. In the fall, I apply it to my beds once I know its composted for 6+ months.

  5. i live in southwest florida. it is extrenely hot and humid during the sping and summer. what are your suggestions for composting outdoors?

    1. All of the moisture is going to be your enemy, for sure. So, what I would suggest is to leave the lid off for sure if you decide to use this style of bin. Also, you’ll want to be sure to turn it off to allow for proper air flow. If you don’t have enough air flow, its going to get stinky. Try to keep it in a location that has some shade and protection as well. It needs sunlight, but maybe afternoon sun but morning shade or vice versa. A

  6. Do you find that this of rubbermaid bin holds all of your kitchen scraps? I’m worried about our family of 4 filling it too quickly before it decomposes enough.

    1. It holds a great deal, but you can always use a larger container. Since they’re inexpensive, you can easily make a second if you find its not enough. It would depend on how many scraps your family uses. I suppose I’m not the best judge because we get a lot of scraps to our chickens! As I said, there are larger bins though! I raise my chicks is a bin that cost me $20, but it’s massive.

  7. What about bears, we are in Vermont and bears get into the neighbors trash can at times. Any suggestions?

  8. This post was not only intriguing & appealing because of its simplicity but I loved it most because parts of it literally made me belly laugh. This manner is exactly how I would tackle a project and the results would be similar (from the knife slits to that jagged rough cut rectangle to the duct tape job 😂), I was thinking, “This lady is so relatable and inspiring!” So thank you on many levels for being helpful and realistic.

  9. I would like to have more information on Vermicomposting. any information would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Any suggesting for a DIY inside bin to hold scraps in between trips outside?

    Also, I’m going to be taking my stuff to our town compost area and dumping it, so I’m thinking I’ll just use one of these closed bins and take it every couple weeks to dump! I don’t see any reason that won’t work, other than the fact that it may smell to high heaven if I miss too many weeks, but if you see any potential issues I’d love to hear your thoughts! (and may get brave enough to start my own bin for the house someday soon 🙂 )

    And last question… the guy who mows the yard on our big rental property has dumped the yard clippings and leaves in big piles in the back corner of the yard for years. It’s broken down now if I dig down into the layers. Is that useable compost, or maybe not since it’s just the yard stuff!

    Thanks so much for your post!


  11. I made my first compost this year using your instructions. It is oddly satisfying to watch it break down and become dirt! Being September, I’m now cleaning up the garden for winter. I plan to use fallen leaves to cover my garden for next year. Now, do I dump my compost into my garden now or let it overwinter in the bin? We’re in central Indiana and have winter weather sometimes below zero.

    1. Sure! But once you fill it with things, it shouldn’t blow away. I would set it on blocks inside of the hole though to make sure water drains out of the bin well.

    1. I wouldn’t use dirt from outside because it might contain pests and diseases. Add one bag of potting soil or compost.

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