Build your own pallet compost bin! Its easy. I'll show you how with these photos and video. You'll be composting in a few hours. Recycled pallets are perfect to make this bin, they are strong, have built in vents, and are free. This bin is also dog proof, our Labradors can't get in it and cause trouble. Learn how to compost with our composting basics video. Want more DIY pallet ideas? See this page for more of my pallet projects.
How To Build A Compost Bin
If you have several pallets to choose from, pick those that are made of hardwoods. I am still amazed to find pallets made from oak, but yeah, they are out there. Hardwood pallets will last longer.
Basically, we are building a box, with an open top and bottom. Its best to not site your bin where the ground is wet or muddy. You want your compost to drain, not hold water.
We used some shelf brackets we found in the trash to hold the the walls of the compost bin together. Or you can get some online. Wire, angle brackets, and wood all work. I have used recycled shelf brackets to build my raised vegetable garden beds, and they will hold up longer than the wood they are screwed into.
Once the sides and back of the pallet compost bin are screwed together, I drive old pieced of metal pipe down in between the slats of the two side walls. Wood stakes will work as well here, or even rebar (metal rods).
The door of the compost bin is hinged, and again, use Use What You Got™, used door hinges work fine. I hung the door about 1.5" higher than the bin walls, using small pieces of wood to hold it up. This is based on experience; if you don't do this, the door can drag on the ground, I've found. To add strength to the bin, I hammered some metal pipes in the two side pallets. Metal fence stakes or other long strong things will work as well.
The hinge side of the door needs the most stability here, as it holds the most weight. I used a piece of chain i had laying around to secure the door closed. The door will have to hold up quite a bit of weight when the bin is full, so think about that when crafting some sort of latch.
The floor of the compost bin is dirt. I don't put a base in the bin. I like the idea of worms moving from the soil up into the compost and the dirt provides some natural drainage. You could also put into the compost pile some red wiggler vermicompost worms to help break down the pile.
What to add to your compost bin?
We have our Composting Basics video that explains a lot about how to compost in your yard, but a few key things are to not add meat or greasy stuff to the pile, and to make sure it is not packed down, air needs to circulate in the compost pile. You can also read more in Wikipedia. Let us know your questions, suggestions, and how you compost below:
I lined my pallets with chicken wire, this helps keeping the compost inside better. I also place a top pallet with a hinge. We have a 350 lb black bear that likes to come in around the middle of August each year and it heads to the compost area. I now have the compost bin inside our pasture that is hot wired. Boy does he still try to get in. Either for the compost bin or our Barbados sheep. So far it has been unsuccessful in getting in. Love your videos.. Fun Fun Fun
Eric Gunnar Rochow
@Diana, we have bear problems as well. we have the beehives inside an electric fence. the bear has yet to go through the compost bin, yet.... eric.
How can you keep the raccoon out of it we live in southwest Ohio.There are lot of them living in the woods in the back yard. From what I now they eat any thing.
Can you give me the wood screw lengths needed for securing the pallets together. I am by no means a carpenter and need to know stuff like this before I give it a go!
Eric Gunnar Rochow
Hi Ivan, most of this can be put together with 1" and 1-1/1" screws. thanks! eric.
Thank you SO much for explaining and demonstrating so clearly!! I have my pallets.....they are prepped but I was stuck as to construction. I now have a VERY clear idea of how to proceed. Cute dogs btw. My 6 1/2 yo completed farm camp and told me 'the soil is eroding from our country and when it's gone we're all going to DIE'. So that's why I am making a compost bin. We will make soil and SAVE THE PLANET!! 😉
great to hear Maryellen, glad we could help with the pallet project! eric.