DIY Backyard Compost Bin

I am so extremely excited about this, my friends. I've been wanting to build myself a compost bin for years now!  Finally in November I moved into a house where I could feasible have one in the backyard.  But with moving and the holidays, etc. I just didn't get it done.

However, on Thursday I spent basically the whole day working on this, and I'm super happy with the way it came out. 


Wood: I was able to use two pallets that my roommate picked up for free from a local brewery, along with a bunch of old fence planks we had from re-doing the fence. This means that all of my wood was free!

If you don't have spare wood handy, you could definitely do this with 4-5 pallets, ideally all the same size.


  1. 2 inch and 4 inch screws
  2. 3 Hinges
  3. 1 metal handle 
  4. 1 fence latch


  1. Hammer
  2. Drill with appropriate bits
  3. Skill saw*
  4. Miter Saw*

* You could do this project without the saws if you found pallets that were all the same size. Because I was working with many different sizes of wood, the saws were definitely needed!


I based my design off of This Old House's DIY Compost Bin, and really enjoyed it. Their design was easy to understand, had awesome diagrams, and I could adjust from it pretty simply (I used different measurements).

Instead of having a slid-in-slide-out top segment, I made mine hinged. Either way works totally fine!

1. I started out with two sturdy but different sized pallets.

2. I partially broke down and then resized the pallets so that they were both 36" high. I kept their original width of 46" and left the "inner workings"for some extra stability.  This gave me 2 out of 4 sides

3. I made one more 36"x 46" side using two vertical planks (36") and six horizontal ones (46").

4. I brought these three sides to the location where I wanted to assemble/keep the compost bin.

5. Then I attach the three side walls at two corners.

6. Making the front involved making a fixed lower segment and a hinged top segment.

7. For the fixed lower portion I made a 25"x"46" wall just like I made the sides (only shorter), by attaching 5 horizontal planks to two vertical ones. 

5. I attached this to the empty front portion of the bin.

6. Then, I measured to determine the dimensions of my hinged segment (14" tall x 41" wide)

7.  Made hinged section using three vertical planks and three horizontal.

8.  Attached hinge and latch.

9. To make the lid I needed two segments each 23"x46" so I could attach them with a hinge in the middle.

10. I attached these using two hinges, one on each side, and added a handle for easy opening and closing.

And that was it! Once I was done I threw in some dead leaves and lawn clippings we still had in a pile from fall.  Then in goes the rest of our stuff! I'll do another post in the future about how to compost correctly.

To be frank this project took me a while as I sort of fumbled my way through re-designing and re-doing several steps.  I'd say it took about 5 hours total, but if I had planned and prepped better it could have been about 3 instead.


Okay, so you're average retail compost bin will cost you between about $50.00-$150.00. A comparable bin to the one I made would be minimally $100.  

My materials and cost was:

  • Wood: $0.00
  • Screws: $10.00 (for 1 lb, I did not use them all)
  • Hinges x 3: $8.00
  • Handle x 1: $3.50 
  • Latches x 1: $4.00

Total Cost: $25.50

Alternate Options

If you are interested in building you're own compost bin and have a backyard to do so, these designs are also awesome:

  1. How to build a compost bin from pallets
  2. How to build a compost bin from cedar lattices 
  3. Easy, square, wood and wire compost bin
  4. Simple wood and wire compost bin

If you are interested in composting but do not have the backyard to do so, here are some indoor composting options:

  1. Under the sink
  2. Retail option