Composting Tips

Get compost fast

Kick your composting up a notch with these tips. Using this simple 3-bin composter you can turn yard and kitchen waste into rich compost in 4 to 6 weeks.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine






$100 - $500

A good tip for composting is to use 3 bins so you can get finished compost faster.

This three-bin composter is designed to make composting tidy and effortless. It's big enough to hold most of your grass clippings, fallen leaves, pruning leftovers and the like so you don't have to haul them away. And the three-bin system speeds up the decomposition so you can return that organic fertilizer to your gardens where it'll improve the soil.

Garden waste goes into the far left bin first. After a few weeks, you move it to the middle bin (turning and aerating it in the process), where it continues to decompose. After a few more weeks, you move it to the third bin (it's ready for another turn anyway), where it's well on its way to becoming finished compost. It takes four to six weeks to make compost from start to finish, assuming you've kept the piles moist and shredded any leaves or tough stalks before adding them to the bin. Meanwhile, you've been filling the bin at the far left with fresh debris to keep the cycle going.

Stuff to avoid: Meat and bones, oils and fats, feces, seed heads, diseased plants and weed roots. In addition, if your compost turns slimy and stinks, discard it and start over. Don't use it on your plants.

Three-Bin Composter Plan

Use cedar decking (or other rot-resistant wood) to build the composter. To make a bigger composter, just use longer boards for the back.

  • Six 5/4 x 6 x 10-ft. cedar deck boards (back)
  • Twelve 5/4 x 6 x 6-ft. cedar deck boards (sides)
  • Twelve 2x2 x 3-ft. cedar (cleats)

Three-bin composter

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Miter saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Framing square
  • Safety glasses

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • 5/4 x 6 x 10-ft. cedar deck boards
  • 5/4 x 6 x 6-ft. cedar deck boards
  • 2 x 2 x 3-ft. cedar

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