How to choose a Composting Bin


When choosing a compost bin, you are typically faced with a few different options. For starters, there are multiple styles of composting bins. You may find yourself choosing from between any of the following options:

Tumbling Compost Bin

Photo found on courtesy of Tammy Leino.

Spinning a tumbling compost bin daily can often produce compost in as quickly as 21 days. These bins are also typically above ground, so they are resistant to attacks by pests and animals.

Stationary Compost Bin

Photo found on courtesy of Clean Air Gardening.

Stationary Compost Bins will typically sit in one area of the yard and can vary in size. However, they are excellent if you need to yield a large amount of compost, and are generally properly aerated. It can at times, take longer for materials to break down.

Worm Compost Bin (aka Vermicomposter)

Image found on courtesy of Colonel Mustard.

A worm compost bin is just what it sounds like – it makes use of worms to aid in the breakdown of organic material into compost. Waste is typically broken down quickly with these bins, and is great for producing compost tea – a liquid substance that occurs naturally when producing compost that is high in nutrients and really good for your garden.

Multi-Bin System

A multi – bin system is choice if you have a lot of composting to do, or desire do to composting continually over time. You can have different stages of compost in each bin, and in the end come out with a lot of compost for your lawn or garden.

Once you have spent some quality time looking at the different styles of compost bins, there might be some additional questions or considerations. For example:

How much compost do I need to create?

This all depends on your composting needs. For example, if you are going to be working constantly with a large surface area and are going to require large amounts of compost for your garden, then something such as a multi-bin system may be perfect for you.

What material will I be composting?

Obviously, there are certain things you shouldn’t compost (animal fat, for instance). However, if you are composting a lot of vegetables with some leaves and grass, then it may make sense to purchase a tumbling compost bin or a stationary compost bin – something with easy access from the kitchen in the backyard that can get regular use.

What is the space/surface area I am working with?

This is also an important question to ask, because it can basically determine the size of your bin. If you are working with a smaller surface area, then a large compost bin is not going to make sense.

Other points of interest

It is vital that no matter what the compost bin or style you feel is right for you, it is properly aerated and has a hole large enough for you to get your compost out of. In addition, your bin should be something that is convenient for you – something that you can get to and from easily, and that will be practical for all of your gardening needs. If possible, try and obtain a compost bin that will be above ground and resistant to rodents, so your compost can decompose quickly and efficiently.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly February 28, 2009 at 3:33 am

I am new to composting and was thinking that for the beginning trial stage I would buy a plastic round trashcan, cut small squares on the sides and cover the holes with screen for ventilation. I am thinking that I can turn the can on it’s side and roll it every day. Would this work? Thanks.


supercomposter March 3, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Trash cans are not very sturdy, so I don’t know if you could roll one around successfully. You can compost in a trash can, as long as there are holes for drainage and airflow.


Home Composter September 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm

I have very limited space and have about narrowed my choice of composters down to worm bins. Particularly, I’m looking at the Worm Factory or Worm Factory 360 because they are 16″ square and less than 2-feet tall. Initially, I thought the Envirocycle Compost Tumbler might work, but it sounds like I would need two of them to continuously compost. It would take awhile to fill one up and then I would have to wait until everything had turned to compost before adding more stuff… is that right?


As far as the Envirocycle goes, not exactly. With a Tumbler, you can keep adding and adding. When it starts to get full, you can dump it out and run it through a compost screen and throw the few unfinished remains back into the bin to keep going.

Or, you can just stop adding for the last week or two. Most of the contents will be finished already, and only the last stuff that you added will still be breaking down if you are continuously composting.

And yes, you can always batch compost with a tumbler, in general. But that’s not what you are trying to accomplish here.

We have one vermicomposting unit going here where I work, but it doesn’t accept much waste because the worms can’t break it down very quickly. We’re talking less than a pound per week of waste. So it’s unlikely that a single worm bin will be able to keep up with all of your materials.

Either of those worm bins you mention are pretty good. I also like the Can O Worms.

I saw from your site that you were also considering the NatureMill automatic composter. Those do okay too, although they are expensive.


anthony January 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm

am debating between stationary and tumbling, we produce @40lbs of waste per month, mostly banana, fruits, veggies, eggshell and coffee grounds, what size composter would be ideal?


I have one of each at my house. One tumbler, and one regular bin.

It sounds like you will have a lot of nitrogen rich materials, and those can really start to get slimy and clump up in a tumbler if you don’t have enough carbon materials to go with it.

I’d probably recommend getting a regular bin. And you can’t go wrong by always getting as big as you can afford.


sam August 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Ok guys/girls i have to build my mother a compost bin, and I have some metal angle and roof tin laying around. I was wondering would this be good to make a stationary bin with? i have drawed up some plans where i can open the front and top so she can mix her compost, but do i need to put ventilation in this or do i just need to throw this plan away and make my bin out of completly different materials. I’m just trying to do this cheeply if possible


Steve August 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm

@Sam, Yes you can make a composter out of numerous material types, its common to make them out of pallets. Yes you want to be sure its well vented. There is no wrong way as long as it hold the material together. Some plans might be better than others but again, no really wrong way to do it.


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