Types of Compost Bins

In this article, I will go through the different types of compost bins, how each one works, their pros and cons so you know which one you to use for your needs.

 

Types of Compost Bins

Now that you know what materials you can put into your compost pile and the equipment to maintain your heap, it’s time to consider your bin.

Basically, your bin is where you’ll put all the materials. And, as you’ll see below, the options are limitless.

Here are the most common options when it comes to compost bins.

 

Open Bins

These are the simplest to create. That’s because you don’t have to enclose everything. The opening can be on top, the sides or both.

Often, you’ll see variations of this where you have 3 sides covered and the remaining one open.

 

Benefits of Open Bins

  • Easier to set up, and cheaper too
  • Adding, mixing and aerating is so much easier because of the openings
  • More air gets in
  • Water access (both pro and con; it’s easier to add moisture but hard to control rain or snow)
  • Openings give decomposers easily access to your compost

 

Disadvantages of Open Bins

  • Animals, pests and other creatures can easily get to it (and mess things up)
  • Your dog or kids can get to it
  • The heat from the sun increases evaporation, which speeds up drying
  • It’s open to the elements (wind, snow, rain and other things)
  • Your neighbors may not like it
  • Having organic mater decaying isn’t visually appealing

 

Covered/Enclosed Bins

Covered bins are primarily the opposite of open bins. As such, the benefits and drawbacks are pretty much the opposite of one another as well.

The one thing to note is that closed bins are often smaller than open bins. Of course, I’ve seen some people with 2-3 large rectangular closed bins outside their homes where the lid flips open from the top.

But, in general, most covered bins are smaller in size.

Additionally, it’s easier to build your own open bin than it is to create a closed one.

 

Tumblers

Tumblers are standing containers that hold your compost. They come in different shapes and sizes. But, in general, they look cylindrical and resemble a drum.

These aren’t going to be as big as a compost pile you leave outside. But, they’re so much more convenient to maintain.

Plus, there’s no risk of your neighbors complaining.

Tumblers work well because they facilitate the composting process. That is:

  • They hold all the material in a single location
  • The cover allows it to retain moisture better
  • Your compost gets oxygen
  • It’s very easy to mix the contents (just crank it to turn the tumbler)

If you do decide to go with a tumbler, make sure you get one with a rod or something else that will break up the materials inside the container.

That’s because if it doesn’t, I’ve found that after a few days of turning, you’ll notice that the content starts clumping together.

When they stick together like that, there’s no airflow within it.

Should that happen, you’ll need to do it manually with your hands. Wear gloves, of course.

 

Related

 

Stationary vs. Movable/Rolling Bins

Stationary bins have fixed locations. And, they’re harder to move. This is the case with large, open bins that you construct in your backyard.

Often these are made of concrete blocks or wood.

In contrast, movable bins are easier to transfer should the need arise. Here there are a lot of options. And, they come in different shapes and sizes.

That said, like in the case of open and closed bins, there’s a size differential. Moveable bins don’t often get to the size of stationary ones. Of course, you can have more than one of them.

 

Kitchen Composters

This one’s a a bit tricky. That’s because you need to choose carefully here.

I’ll admit the idea is novel. But, not all products execute properly. Some are really just temporary holding bins that look nice with your kitchen decor.

Later on, you’ll need to dump its contents to your actual compost bin outside.

Yet, there are those that really work. These actually start the composting process. But, you’ll still need to move the organic matter to your main bin outside later on. That’s because the entire process takes a long time.

 

Types of Materials Compost Bins are Made From

In addition to choosing the kind of composter you have, it’s a good idea to consider the material that’s used for it. Depending on whether you buy one or make one yourself, you may have more options.

The latter of course, gives you the freedom to decide exactly what material you want to use in constructing your composter.

Here are some options.

 

Plastic Bin

The simplest is your trash bin. If you decide to use one, make sure you clean it first. This is just to make sure that there were no chemicals or other potentially dangerous materials stored there first.

That said, you will need to drill extra holes as well. This allows for air as well as creatures to enter the container.

Plastic is cheap. And, it’s easy to replace and modify. Plus, it’s also resilient.

On the downside, it does absorb odors.

 

Wire Bin

A wire bin is another simple option. All you need here is fence wire. The easiest of which is to set up the fence standing up and make it form a circle. This allows you to create a cylinder that’s open on top.

This set up makes it easy for air as well as decomposers to access your compost. Also, adding moisture when needed is likewise not a problem.

 

Brick, Block, Concrete or Stone Bin

You’ve probably seen many of these. These are bigger compost bins.

Cinder blocks work really well for this purpose because they have built-in holes. This allows air to enter easily.

Additionally, all you need to do is lay the blocks on 3 sides. You don’t even need mortar. Their weight is enough to keep them stable.

 

Wood or Pallet Bin

If you’ve got carpentry skills, you can create a simple composter that looks like the block one above. All you need to create are 3 wooden walls (with spaces in between for air).

An easier option would be just to get old pallets. Standing them up in 3 or 4 sides and tying them together works really well.

You can likewise add another pallet on the ground to act as a platform. This elevates the pile and allows for air to enter from below.

Pallets, like cinder blocks, are perfect for your composter’s walls because they have built-in holes.

 

Multiple Bins

One thing I’ve learned is with composting is either you like it or you don’t. If you happen to enjoy it, you may consider adding more bins.

This is a great alternative to creating one large pile. And it allows you to have covered bins as well.

Multiple bins often look like 2-3 dumpsters placed side by side. Each of which has its own flip-top open lid.

This makes it easy to go through them.