Most compost bins are made out of plastic, wood, or metal, and most commercially available composters are manufactured from dark-colored recycled plastic. Dark plastic bins are ideal for absorbing heat from the sun and preventing moisture loss. DIY compost bins are commonly made of wood, metal, or stone. Keep in mind that bins used outdoors should be made from weather-resistant materials that will fit aesthetically with your landscape.
A properly mixed compost pile will have very little odor. Maintaining a balance of high-carbon brown and high-nitrogen green materials, aeration, moisture, and temperature will prevent the compost from producing odor. A properly made compost bin should have air vents or holes on selected parts of the bin for proper ventilation. Some bins have charcoal filters to help mitigate odor.
Stationary outdoor compost bins can go either in the shade or sun, depending on how fast you want the composting process to go. The sun helps increase the temperature, so the bacteria and fungi work faster. Tumblers or smaller bins can be moved to any part of your yard or home as needed.
For its design, ease of use, and price, the Utopia Kitchen Compost Bin is a versatile compost bin for both beginners and advanced composters to collect kitchen scraps before adding to an outdoor compost bin. When looking for something larger than can accommodate both discarded food and dry leaves or grass clippings, the FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter was a close runner-up.
Each product was tested based on how easy it was to assemble, use, and clean. Using a rubric, we tested specifically for durability, how easy it was to empty and fill each compost bin, and how well any mechanisms worked, such as vents, filters, and spigots for compost tea. We also tested for odor control as well as the value of each bin for the price.
When starting a compost, you can expect the process to take several months before it's initially ready to use, she adds. Most compost piles can be started with fruit scraps, leaves, grass clippings, and a small amount of soil or compost starter. While most of the work of composting is done naturally over time, you should still check on your compost to ensure its in a well-aerated, moist, and and warm environment.
You can put all kinds of food scraps into a composter, such as apple cores, banana peels, vegetable skins, coffee grounds, eggshells, and bread. However, animal products, such as meat, dairy, and bones, generally aren't recommended for composting because they can harbor pathogens and attract pests.
You also can add grass clippings, leaves, wood shavings, hay, animal manure, and other yard waste, as well as paper towels, cardboard, and shredded newspaper. "You should avoid grease and oils as they can cause the compost to become waterlogged," says Phillips. "Anything containing chemicals, such as treated wood and synthetic fertilizers, should also not be added to the compost." You should also avoid adding weeds to your pile, if your home regularly faces high temperatures, as they can regrow in your pile.
Your compost pile does not have to be directly on the ground to effectively decompose. Several of the compost bins we've included in this roundup are direct-to-soil in method, meaning they lack a bottom and lid, but they are not in any way "more effective" than closed bins. It should be noted that direct to soil composting is when you mix kitchen scraps directly into the soil in a hole in your garden beds. This results in a nutrient-rich soil blend, says Phillips. However, compost bins that are elevated off the ground are a great option, if you don't have the time to bury kitchen scraps often. If you aren't ready to purchase a compost bin, you can also make a DIY compost bin out of containers or materials you already have in your home.
Despite being DINKs (double income, no kids), my partner and I produce a ton of food waste because we cook almost all of our meals. We also love to garden. So when we bought our first home last spring, a compost bin was an inevitability. We knew we needed a lot of room, and that ruled out most reasonably priced tumbling composters. After some extensive research, we settled on the Algreen SoilSaver Composter, which we stationed adjacent to our raised garden beds. This composter is huge, simple to assemble, and foolproof to use: You just unlock the two twist locks on the top and remove it to add your scraps. After time and microbes have done their thing, a small door at the base lets you access the fully composted soil on the bottom. Ours is almost always full, despite the generous amount of space and the fact that we regularly use the compost in the garden.
Compost is full of the nutrients your plants need, so it's an ideal fertiliser, organic mulch, and soil improver. Just put your garden waste and some kitchen waste into a compost bin and it will break down over a year or so to reveal fresh, home-made compost.
If you're new to composting or would like more practical tips and information, see our guides on how to make compost and how to make a composting trench. We also have a handy trouble-shooting video on common problems with composting. For tested tools to help with the process, check out our guides to the best spades, electric garden shredders, border forks, gloves, wheelbarrows and best cordless mowers.
We tested the different types of compost bins, using them in the garden for a year to help you find the right one for your garden. Each bin has a detailed list of pros and cons for clarity and has been rated according to design, ease of use, compost quality and value for money. Every bin in our round up below has scored a minimum of four out of five stars, so you can buy with confidence.Jump to:
This traditional wooden compost bin has a huge 573 litre capacity, earning it a Best Buy award for the best large compost bin. Made from sustainably sourced Scandinavian softwood, the planks easily slot into upright grooves on the corner posts and the bin can be accessed from every side. Thanks to its plastic cover, it produces the highest internal temperature of any of the wooden bins on test, guaranteeing fantastic compost. However, you should note that this cover let in a little rain.
Awarded a BBC Gardeners' World Magazine Best Buy for the most versatile compost bin, the Green Johanna 330-litre Hot Composter has a good capacity and works effectively for all types of food and garden waste. It does not need pre-mixing and is made from 100 per cent-recycled plastic.
Producing some of the best and fastest compost on test, this composter is for serious gardeners. It's designed to be modular, so you can add multiple units for extra capacity, and is very sturdy as it's made of sustainably sourced wood with aluminium fittings. The planks slide out smoothly so it's easy to add waste and remove compost. However, the lid isn't included, and this composter needs a lot of assembly with power tools, so if DIY isn't your bag you may want to look elsewhere.
This plastic compost bin has a great 400-litre capacity. On test, its foamed plastic walls and carefully designed ventilation system helped it handle this volume quickly, producing excellent compost. It's made from 100% recycled materials and includes a wide two-part hinged hatch for easy filling. However, it's a little tricky to assemble.
With a robust, sectional design and made from thick recycled plastic, this bin is easy to access thanks to a wide hinged lid. Insulated and vented sides help it compost quickly and it's available in a range of sizes, from 250L to 700L (pictured). However, we found that it's fiddly to assemble without help, and it comes at a relatively high price.
A plastic compost bin is ideal for a small space. The plastic sides and lid retain moisture and heat to encourage rapid decomposition, as well as blocking out light to stop weeds from growing. This type of bin should ideally be placed on grass or earth.
Wooden compost bins produce the most compost. Typically 1x1m, the biggest wooden bins can produce hundreds of litres of compost. They're often modular, so you can fit several together and cycle compost throughout the year to ensure a steady supply. Usually open to the elements, you can also increase their efficiency with a wooden lid or plastic cover.
Insulated with a close-fitting lid, hot compost bins are designed to allow decomposition at a much higher temperature and therefore higher speed than other composters (30-90 days, compared to around six months). They also result in a finer compost. Roughly the size of a wheelie bin, they need to stand on a hard surface.
Compost bins come in a variety of sizes and capacities. A narrow plastic bin is perfect for a little city garden, but might not work for a bigger space in the country. On the other hand, a 1x1m wooden bin is great for large quantities of compost, but may be overkill if you have a suburban spot.
This means you should also consider how much compost you'd like to make and how quickly. Wooden compost bins can process the most waste, but if you don't want to wait half a year for your first batch, insulated compost bins speed up the process, but offer less compost. Garden design is a crucial consideration, too. You might have a big patch of unused soil that would fit a compost bin, but might not be sunny enough to make it worthwhile. The type of ground you are setting your bin on is also important, as plastic and wooden compost bins will ideally need to be placed on grass or earth while insulated bins can sit on hard ground.
There are a whole range of kitchen and garden waste materials which can be put into a compost bin. You need a 50:50 split of nitrogen-rich 'green' material like grass cuttings and carbon-rich 'brown' material like dead leaves. This rough ratio of green to brown waste is crucial, because otherwise the waste won't break down.
This outdoor tumbling bin has more than 11,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. Our experts have't tested it, but we like that it sits high off the ground, which helps with rodent control. The UV-resistant black plastic construction includes recycled content, according to the manufacturer, and helps to attract and retain heat to aid in the composting process. 781b155fdc