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DIY Building a Compost Bin Outside

Building a compost bin of your own is quite easy! It will make your gardening journey successful with nutrient rich soil and help the environment too. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Building a Compost Bin

Have you ever thought of building a compost bin of your own?? I’d think so since you’re here after all. 😉 Are you new to the concept and wondering why others swear by it as far as gardening is concerned?? We were as well, so we researched a bunch and now we’re amongst the believers.  Sponsored by Hefty® EnergyBag® Program. (originally published 4/19, affiliate links present)

Do you love gardening?? It’s become a family affair over here at The Typical Mom house!

  • Last week we shared how to make a vegetable garden! Now that was fun! Following up with that, it is now time to show you why having a compost pile is an integral part of a successful flourishing garden.

Free DIY compost bin plans

building a raised garden

Yep, it was just a big pile of soil, roots of plants that had been removed, leaves, and a few friends too. I think finding all the spiders and worms were my kids’ favorite part that day.

Best Compost Bin Outside

  • This was left by the people who owned our home previously. We didn’t bother doing anything with it until this year, then I was ready to remove the eye sore and make it “pretty”. As pretty as you can make a pile of mulch that is. 😉

Once snow season seemed to be over we got to work and my husband created compost bin plans of his own. In his head of course. He absolutely LOVES this kind of project.

Let’s get started with a few step by step photos of making a compost bin:

Building a Compost Bin 2

Homemade compost bin

I like to use materials we have on hand already. Repurposing unused items will save you money and get rid of clutter as well. It’s a win win.

  1. 4 cut – pressure treated 4×4 pieces of wood, 1 for each corner
    1. Treated lumber will help with it being rot resistant
  2. 15 cut to size – 2×4 pieces of wood, for front, sides and back
  3. 1 box – 3″ screws
  4. Netting – like chicken wire to keep dirt in bin
    1. We used wire mesh that was on a gate we removed because I like to repurpose as much as possible
  5. Level
  6. Drill
  7. Table saw – some home improvement stores will cut pcs. for you
  8. Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags – more on this below

Now, find a spot and make it as flat as possible.

diy compost bin 2

If you have children have them help you! It’s a great way to get them involved in a do it yourself project. Even if they just hold the level they can be proud at the end that they participated.

I have three daughters, so everyone got involved in this process. While “my middle” was helping her dad as you see here, my oldest and youngest were planting Brussel sprouts and strawberries. They were able to use dirt from the original compost pile for this.

Benefits of a compost bin

Benefits of a compost pile:

  • Enhances the existing soil naturally.
  • Compost piles reduce the volume of material going into our landfills.
  • Reduces the methane going into our environment.
  • Nutrient rich soil is there for you to use in this bin system, free of charge.
    • Also requires you to purchase less fertilizer.
  • It teaches your kids the value of maintaining a garden, lawn, shrubs etc.
    • Good way to show kids how to be a good steward to our planet. and our own property.
    • In addition to showing them that what most would throw away can be used to create richer soil = a more beautiful and fruitful garden.
childrens garden

Using fruits and vegetables from the store that were already sprouted, made helping in the garden more exciting.

Compost Bin Outdoor

Tips for working in the garden with your kids:

  • Get them each a pair of gardening gloves
    • Enables them to help with woodwork without getting splinters
    • Helps keep their hands a bit more clean
  • Give each child a orange bag, so they can put their empty plant containers inside
    • My youngest likes to dig with plastic spoons while planting, those can be put in these orange bags too
    • Putting items such as these inside means less landfill waste = less fossil energy dependence
    • You can print this handy list of approved items to keep on hand, as well as reading a full list here.
      • Albertsons market is where I bought ours, they’re right next to the traditional Hefty® trash bags.

We share what the great Hefty EnergyBag Program is all about here too. We live in Boise and since this program began they’ve collected 520,328 lbs. of hard to recycle plastics!!

  • The energy content in the collected plastic is equivalent to powering 58 Households for one yr. or powering 145 cars for 1 year!! 

Easy DIY Compost Bin

You see, this is another lesson you can talk about when building a garden with your children. 

Look at all the items you’re working with and have them determine whether it belongs in the recycle bin, or in an orange bag. What should be thrown away, and what you should throw in your new compost bin. Why we should separate everything properly so it helps the environment, and why that’s important to THEIR future.

  • Every project together can be turned into a lesson (and they won’t even realize they’re learning). 😉
diy compost bin

Building a compost bin

Now for the step by step directions: Where should you put your mulch pile? There are some simple rules to think about when choosing a location.

  • First, don’t put it right up against your house
    • A mulch pile will create moisture and can create issues for you later down the road. 
    • You don’t want to create a great habitat for rodents.
      • To minimize this don’t throw food right on top but instead bury the food into the soil
        • Grains, meat and bones aren’t the best since they will take a long time to break down

Once you’ve found a flat area, determine how large you want your compost bin to be.

How can I make an inexpensive compost bin

  • Measure that area so you know how long your 2×4 pieces of wood need to be.
    • We decided to make our sides shorter but you could make it square if you wanted.
  • Dig holes deep enough for your 4×4 pieces to be buried.
  • Then start with the back of your compost bin
    • Hold the board (this is where the kids can help too) where you want it to be. Use your level to make sure it is straight.
    • Use screws to secure each end to your 4×4 corner edges.
  • Secure your 2×4 on the sides of the bin, making sure they are level as well. Space them out as you see here so air can get into the dirt and help it decompose.
  • We decided to do a short front so digging dirt out would be easier, that is up to you.

Use a staple gun to secure chicken wire on the inside of your bin so dirt is less likely to escape, but air can still be let in. 

diy compost bin

Here’s our finished compost bin!!

DIY compost bin

Types of compost:

  1. Soil
  2. Grass clippings – yard waste
  3. Leaves
  4. Pinecones
  5. Kitchen wastes
    1. We put a lot of corn husks – ends of broccoli and cauliflower we aren’t going to cook in there.
    2. Lots of watermelon rinds are added during the summertime too
    3. Coffee grounds 
mulch pile

How often to turn a compost pile depends on your green to brown ratio but typically every week is adequate. Just use your shovel and bring the top contents to the bottom, tossing it as you would a salad really. 😉 Turning regularly aerates the material and encourages decomposition because these microbes need to be able to breathe. Some people use worm composting strategies, but we haven’t as of yet.

  • Microbes decompose the materials added into your bin, and they need to be able to breathe in order to be successful. If they can’t, this process will take much longer.

Other ways to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle:

  • As we mentioned before recycling is very important. 
  • Take note of what can and cannot be recycled in the area you live in.
  • Make sure to separate trash from what can be recycled and put items in the correct bin.
  • What cannot be placed in those bins should be put into these Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags.
  • Close the bag when full, and place that bag on top of your recycle bin to be collected. It doesn’t replace your recycling program, it compliments it.

The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program is available in Boise, Omaha, and Cobb County currently.

orange recycling bags

Whether you’re looking for Earth Day Activities for kids, or new ways you can help the environment, we hope this article helped. 

  • Do you participate in this program in your city too??

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