DIY Compost Bin

DIY Compost Bin Tutorial | The Happy Housewife

In an effort to live a little “greener” I decided to make my own compost bin. Since I am on bed rest, I had to rely on my trusty helpers to accomplish this project. I searched the internet for several weeks trying to find the easiest and cheapest way to make a compost bin, and finally came up with this idea.
You will need:

  • 1 Trash can with lid
  • 1 Drill
  • 2 Bungee Cords
  • Kids that like to roll things around the yard

I do not recommend making this inside, unless you have to sit in your bed to take the pictures.

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Using the drill, drill holes in the garbage can. We decided to drill 4 or 5 holes on each “side” and bottom of the can. ( I realize circles don’t have sides, but I hope you understand what I mean) After consulting with several readers, I would drill 10 to 15 holes on each side. The more air the better.

diy compost bin2 (2)

It helps to have one person drilling and another person holding the can steady.

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When you are finished it should look like this.

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Then drill several holes in the lid.

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Once you are finished drilling all the holes fill the can about 1/3 full with grass clippings and leaves. Then spray them with a little water so they are damp.

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You can then begin adding your kitchen waste. Here is a list of things you can add to your bin.

Keep your lid secured on your bin, we used bungee cords.

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Every few days have your helpful children roll the bin around the yard to mix things up.

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Store your bin in a sunny spot to help break things down quicker.

Total cost of this project: About $15 for the can, the bungee cords were in the garage.

Total time spent: Less then 30 minutes including clean-up.

Disclaimer: The pregnant lady on bed rest was not harmed nor did she get out of bed during the making of this bin. All work was done by children in accordance with Maryland child labor laws.

This post is linked to the Ultimate Garden Link Up.

More Frugal Gardening Ideas:

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.


  1. Gotta love it!! 🙂

  2. Great DIY compost! I built one on Auto Cad, planing to using a 55 Gallon barrel. You can check it out on At first I though I was one of the only guys on here, but then I saw a few other guy names! I agree with Bob about using more holes. I think for my compost bin i will try to add a few large holes possible with screens, Im still tossing the idea around and am not sure. Thanks for the Great Post, Lots of good info and great family project!

  3. Thanks for posting this! We tried a different DIY composter last year, and it didn’t work very well for mixing. This one that can be rolled (and sit up descretely in a corner of the back yard) seems perfect! We’ll definitely be making one soon.

  4. OH! I’ve been wanting to start a compost pile/bin/something, but everything is super expensive or seems overwhelmingly complicated.

    This . . . I can do. Totally. And the kids rolling it around the yard, a plus!

  5. perdidochas says:

    What utter bull about dogs and human food. Dogs evolved to eat scrap human food as scavengers. The “dog food is the only safe food for dogs” myth was brought about by pet food manufacturers.

  6. My dad built a similar model using a trash can except that he cut off the bottom and dug it into the ground. The concept was that he wanted a compost pile but had to somehow prevent animals from getting to the food scraps. The advantage to his model is that it allows any extra wetness to easily escape . Disadvantage? He can’t turn it as easily as your model!

  7. I saw a 32-gallon plastic container at Home Depot for around $15, and I thought it would be the cheapest and easiest way for me to make a composter; however, I didn’t go ahead with the project because I was concerned that the plastic might not hold up to the heat generated by the composting process. Well, now, thanks to you, I’m going to risk it.

  8. This is a great example of keeping it simple! I really like this plan for ease of use and cost, but I was wondering if you have any concerns not using a food grade container? After researching, it seems certain plastics can breakdown dangerous chemicals which would be absorbed by your garden vegetables through the compost. Just wondering your thoughts on this?

  9. Thanks for posting this. We have been looking for an inexpensive way to make a compost bin. We probably have a spare trash can we can use, too!
    Take good care of yourself.

  10. So glad you reposted this! I din’t realize how easy it was to make one of these! Guess who is getting one for their birthday?

  11. @Tamara, If you are worried about BPA and other chemicals leaching into your veges, you could always use a steel bin, probably a fair bit dearer though.

  12. As a Labor and Delivery RN, I absolutely love your disclaimer!! Great ideas for the compost bin too!

  13. kelly thompson says:

    totally doing this – thanks- been looking for an inexpensive way to do it and this looks good!

  14. I’ve heard that adding some worms to the mix would help speed the composting process. Could worms be added to this rig you’ve set up here, or should I be looking for another type of bin better suited to housing worms? TIA!!

  15. Holly Harman says:

    I made my own a few years ago using a black trash can ( to help absorb heat) . This one had the flip-up handles to hold on the lid, which I bungeed together when I rolled it around the yard. Works great! I found that torn up cardboard & shredded paper help substitute for the “brown” compost when you run out of dried leaves & grass.

  16. Thanks for the tutorial!!! How well has this bin worked? I’m trying to find a good (and super cheap) way to make a hassle free compost bin.

  17. Sheila Pena says:

    I have been wanting to make a bin for a while!! This is perfect! I have everything at home to make it!! Thank you so much!! I hope you made it through your bed rest!! 🙂

  18. Maria Rodlund says:

    I am planning on starting a compost bin for my house I have thrown away too much food
    I live in Minnesota and would like to start by bin now what should i place in bottom if I don’t have grass clippings or leaves at this time
    Thank you
    maria Rodlund
    Stillwater, MN

  19. not even an amateur…but I have heard that compost bins can accumulate a certain amount of “compost juice” at the bottom…..did you find this to be true? wouldn’t rolling the bin around then make the compost too wet if it re-mixes this accumulated juice back into the mixture? did you drill holes into the bottom? please someone let me know……many thanks…

  20. I’ve been using this method for years and years. I have 4 cans is use now! I would strongly advise drilling holes in the bottom can the can also, otherwise the bottom may get too wet.

  21. Toni Anderson says:

    Yes, I would drill holes in the bottom as well.

  22. This is much easier than the method I tried with a storage container. It was the same principle, but we couldn’t roll it around like this one. I will be adding at least one of these to our little homestead this year. Thank you for sharing the link with the Mom Tested Family Approved Ultimate Garden link up!

  23. Love it!!! Especially the disclaimer!!! Can’t wait to show my hubby! We’ve got everything except the bungee cords (and he might even have some that I don’t know about!)

  24. Went to Walmart and bought a $10 black garbage can with snap-on lid, drilled holes in it and now I can’t wait to start making compost! Such a great idea! Thank you!

  25. Kristen says:

    This is great!

  26. Do you have to drill holes? Can you just take the top off

  27. I think the holes are necessary for drainage and air circulation.

  28. How long did it take for you to get usable soil?

  29. jeff in guelph says:

    This is almost exactly what I did two weeks ago, and two weeks later, the leafy bits were broken down, the twiggy stuff and veiny stuff, not so much. By Ontario standards, it was pretty cool for those weeks. I rolled it when I remembered, maybe too muchh water, but never went anaerobic.
    My motivation was ‘too many trips to the dump’, the volume drops about 80-90% in the two weeks. Didnt nget to 140F, but I never expected it too… and I only use garden waste and coffee grounds, no food scraps or paper— been there done that, cleaned up after racoons and nearly stepped on skunks.
    My wife calls this ‘very expensive’ compost— she’s right, cheaper to buy, but i wanted to prove to myself i could do it

  30. So interesting idea! I have a little veggie garden and I think that this composting bin is more than amazing idea! I will definitely make one! Thank you for the idea!

  31. Lawrence Yeo says:

    1. Dont the compost stink especially when the water is stuck in the bin
    2. Do one see worms all around the inside of the bin and in the compost
    3. Does it stink when you open the bin lid each time and the stench can travel to your house.
    4. The hot weather rot the compost sooner than one can use them or how often is the compost being used?


  1. […] A little internet searching confirmed that I could make an effective bin out of a regular trash barrel by drilling it full of holes and using bungee cords to keep out the raccoons.  The holes allow for air to circulate.  The Happy Housewife blog has great step by step pictures. […]

  2. […] seems pretty cheap to start and you can put in all kinds of things into it, which for me is the major perk – I can see […]

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