If you dream of a compost bin brimming with earthy, black soil but buying a composter isn't in your budget right now, making your own from wooden pallets and rebar (or old metal stakes) may be the solution. This quick-and-easy project can be completed in a couple of hours and is inexpensive to make, too.

Items Needed

5 Wooden Pallets (from a place like Brampton Pallet Inc Recycled Pallets)

6 Rebar or Metal Poles

Hammer or Sledge Hammer

Zip Ties (optional)

Shovel or Garden Rake

2 Hinges

1 Door Hook


Choosing a location for your compost bin is important to both the rate your organic matter transforms to rich compost and the ease of using the finished compost. Follow these guidelines.

  • Select a location for your compost bin that will receive full sun for part of the day. Bins placed in direct sunlight all day may overheat and dry out quickly, while those in full shade may be too cool for your organic matter to compost properly. Aim for several hours of direct sunlight a day with filtered light during the hot afternoon hours.

  • Avoid areas with trees, as the roots may grow into the compost bin.

  • Choose a location that is easy to access, both for adding new organic matter and for using finished compost. A location near the garden, but close to the back door is ideal.

  • Place the compost bin within reach of your garden hose, as you will likely need to water the compost frequently to keep it active.


Before you build the compost bin you will need to prepare the area. Follow these tips.

  • Remove vegetation from the area.

  • Pull and destroy large weeds and mow the grass short.

  • Level the soil with a garden rake, or use a shovel to move soil around to form a flat, level surface.

Building the Compost Bin

Building the compost bin with the wooden pallets is surprisingly easy.

  1. Lay a pallet on the ground in the location where you want your compost bin. This is your base pallet that forms the floor of the compost bin.

  2. Position a second pallet vertically so that its edge is flush with the backside of the base pallet. This will create the back of your compost bin.

  3. Drive a metal stake or rebar through the space between the layers of boards on the pallet. Repeat at the opposite end of the vertical pallet to anchor it into the soil. Check that the stakes are secure and the pallet is held in an upright position.

  4. Position the third pallet so that it abuts the pallet at the back of the compost bin and is flush with the base pallet to create the side of the compost bin. 

  5. Drive metal stakes through the space between the layers of the boards on the pallet to secure it into the soil. This will create the back corner of the bin.

  6. Repeat with the procedure to form the opposite side of the compost bin. You should now have a square box with an open front and top.

  7. Position the remaining pallet to create a door for the front of the compost bin. Secure the right side of the pallet to the side of the compost bin with two hinges. This creates a swinging door to your compost bin.

  8. Complete the project by adding a latch to the front door (opposite the side with hinges) so you can open and close the door to add or remove compost.

  9. Secure the sides of the compost bin with additional zip ties, if necessary. 

Your compost bin is now ready for use and you can begin adding organic matter to the bin. Don't forget to keep the dry or brown organic matter (twigs, hay, leaves) to wet or green organic matter (grass clippings, kitchen scraps) ratio to 2 parts green to 1 part brown.

Additional Tips

  • Use boards from an old pallet to fill in areas where the spaces are larger than you prefer on your compost bin. Air circulation is important, but the spaces between boards should be small enough to hold your compost inside the compost bin.

  • Cover the bin with a sheet of corrugated metal or old roofing, if desired. This is not necessary, but will keep animals out and protect your bin from receiving too much moisture. It may be beneficial in areas where wildlife is a nuisance or rainfall is high.

  • Plant flowers or vines around the outside of the compost bin to conceal it, if appearance is an issue.