How to Build a Simple Pallet Compost Bin for FREE

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Compost bins come in many shapes and sizes. You can buy (or make) tumbler compost bins, stationary bins, closed compost systems, open-air compost systems, bucket compost bins, small kitchen compost bins, the list goes on! Today, we are going to make a DIY compost bin from pallets!

Side view: Outdoor compost bin made with 4 wooden pallets surrounded by grass and trees

Why Should You Make a Compost Bin with Pallets?

  • Building a 4 pallet compost bin is a great option for a single woman, an elderly couple, and for anyone who cares for an outdoor compost bin on their own. 
  • This DIY compost bin is simple to build, affordable (in most cases free), and simple to use.
  • A wooden compost bin can be fixed up to be aesthetically pleasing if that is important to you.
  • This is a functional compost bin that allows easy access to turn “in-progress” compost and finished compost.

Considerations Before Building a DIY Pallet Compost Bin?

#1 Wood Type

  • Many pallets are treated with various chemicals depending on the industry they were previously used in. You will want to be sure to choose non-treated pallets or your compost could become contaminated.
  • You will also want to consider the type of wood the pallets are made of. Pine is pretty common and will work okay, but it is a softer wood and rots fairly easily. If you can get your hands on rot-resistant hardwood pallets like cedar or oak, definitely opt for those over the pine.

#2 Size of Pallets

  • Decide how large you want your DIY compost bin to be. I like to use standard size pallets so my wooden compost bins stand almost as tall as I am. You will want all four pallets to be of similar size so they all stand the same height.

#3 Size of Compost System

  • The compost system I am showing you today is a one bin system. I will be adding more bins to my system within the year, but you can start out with one with no problem.
  • The idea behind multiple compost bins is that you can always have multiple compost piles in different stages of decomposition. Ex- Fill up bin one, as it decomposes you can start filling up bin #2, repeat for bin #3. If you will have a ton of compost from the get-go, I would recommend starting with multiple bins.

Front view: Outdoor compost bin made with 4 wooden pallets surrounded by grass and trees

How to Build a Wooden Pallet Compost Bin

Make your own compost bin with these materials that you potentially have laying around your homestead already:

  • 4 wooden pallets
  • Box of Screws (wood screws are best)
  • 2-4 hinges
  • Wire mesh like Hardware Cloth or Chicken Wire

STEP 1: Assemble the First 3 Pallets

To build your pallet compost bin, you will take 3 old pallets and stand them up vertically together like a 3-sided box.

Use wood screws to connect them together at the corners leaving one side open.

STEP 3: Attach the Door

The fourth pallet will serve as the door that will allow you to remove and turn the compost. 

Connect this pallet by adding 2-4 hinges on one side. I like mine to open to the left, but you choose which side works best for you.

This makes for easy removal of finished compost.

STEP 5: Add a Latch

If you want, you can add a latch to the unattached side of the front pallet to make sure it doesn’t come open when you don’t want it to. 

STEP 6: Add Wire Mesh

*optional

Now you can use a staple gun to add wire mesh or hardware cloth to the inside of the bin. 

This step is optional, but adding the wire mesh to the side walls will help to keep composting materials from falling through the cracks of the pallets.

You can also staple hardware cloth to the outside of the pallets if you want to keep animals little paws from getting into your compost.

STEP 7: Stain the Pallets

*optional

If you want your outdoor compost bin to be aesthetically pleasing, you can stain the outside of the pallets. 

Be sure to ONLY stain the outside. If you stain the inside, the stain could potentially affect your kitchen compost.

You could also turn the top of your pallet compost bin into a planter.

That’s it! Now you have a single pallet compost bin system! 

Using this system properly will allow you to have good compost for the next growing season.

**If you want a 2 or 3 bin compost system, you can repeat these steps with your additional pallets.

How to Make Healthy Compost in an Outdoor Compost Bin

Building Good Homemade Compost:

To make a healthy homemade compost, you will need to make sure that you have a good carbon:nitrogen ratio. 

The ideal carbon:nitrogen ratio in compost is 30:1.

You can maintain this 30:1 ratio by layering plenty of carbon materials, also known as brown materials, in with your kitchen scraps and other green waste (nitrogen materials).

Add a good chunk of brown materials first to your DIY compost bin. Throw in some sticks, dried leaves, and other carbon rich materials. These materials on the bottom will help with air flow and drainage.

Then you can start layering in your green materials with the brown. 

Top view: Wooden pallet compost bin with kitchen scraps and organic material inside

Green (Nitrogen) Material

  • garden waste
  • kitchen scraps
  • food scraps
  • grass clippings
  • lawn clippings
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee or tea grounds

Brown (Carbon) Material:

  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded paper
  • Cardboard
  • Cow manure
  • Straw 
  • Mulch

A little tip–> You can store your kitchen scraps in a Kitchen Compost Pail and dump it when it is full. This way you don’t have to go to your DIY outdoor compost bin every day.


Download my FREE Garden Compost Guide for a quick at-a-glance composting cheat sheet!

Caring for Your Compost:

Add Water to the Compost Pile

As you add new layers to your composting system, moisten with water. If the compost is too dry, it won’t decompose as quickly. However, you will need to be sure that you do not oversaturate the compost with water.

How Often to Turn the Compost in a Pallet Compost Bin

Try to turn the compost once a week. This will help air to flow through the compost and for materials on top to be turned under to compost more quickly.

The Homestead Garden Planner

Black Soldier Fly control

You may begin to notice an issue with maggots and flies. This is typically due to the Black Soldier Fly. 

You don’t have to do anything about these flies because they actually help the compost to decompose. 

BUT if they are an issue for you, you can add hardware cloth around the sides and top of your bin. This will keep the flies out so they can’t lay eggs inside you compost.

If you add hardware cloth across the top, be sure that you can still open it to add more compost materials.

The black soldier flies are attracted to the nitrogen materials in your compost. 

To discourage them, you can bury your kitchen scraps under brown material and be sure that you have more carbon than nitrogen materials.

Using your Compost

Once you have finished compost, you can scoop it out of your outdoor compost bin and store it in a “finished” pile or put it straight onto your garden area. 

Enjoy your black gold!! Happy composting!!


DIY Pallet Compost Bin

How to build a simple compost bin with wooden pallets

Materials

  • 4 wooden pallets
  • Box of Screws
  • 2-4 hinges
  • Wire mesh

Instructions

  • Take 3 old pallets and stand them up vertically standing together like a 3-sided box.
  • Use wood screws to connect them together at the corners leaving one side open.
  • The fourth pallet will serve as the door that will allow you to remove and turn the compost. 
    Connect this pallet by adding 2-4 hinges on one side.
  • Add a latch to the unattached side of the front pallet to make sure it doesn’t come open when you don’t want it to. 
  • Now you can use a staple gun to add wire mesh or hardware cloth to the inside of the bin. 
    This step is optional, but adding the wire mesh to the side walls will help to keep composting materials from falling through the cracks of the pallets.
    You can also staple hardware cloth to the outside of the pallets if you want to keep animals little paws from getting into your compost.
  • If you want your compost bin to be aesthetically pleasing, you can stain the outside of the pallets. 
    Be sure to ONLY stain the outside. If you stain the inside, the stain could potentially affect your kitchen compost.
    You could also turn the top of your pallet compost bin into a planter.

>>More Gardening and Composting Ideas:

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