Since moving out to the country and getting a 4 acre piece of property I’ve wanted to setup some compost bins for my wife’s gardening. I had no idea how to go about doing so. After some research I learned there’s a ton of really easy and affordable ways to do it. That’s what I’m sharing today is my simple DIY pallet compost bins.
Getting the Pallets
I got all of my pallets for free and odds are you can as well. I went to Facebook Marketplace and found free ones from various people. You’ll also find that a lot of local businesses give them away as well. Heck, even large box stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart will give them to you if you call and ask.
There’s something to keep an eye on when getting your pallets though. There’s two types of treatment that’s common: heat treated and methyl bromide. On a pallet you’ll see either HT for heat treated or MB for methyl bromide. You’ll want the HT pallets for safety as the MT pallets are treated with a chemical and that’s no good for your compost.
Building Pallet Compost Bins
I didn’t think to get any pictures of the process of building the pallet compost bins but it’s honestly rather simple. You want to stand your pallets up and create a square. Then use exterior screws to attach the pallets together and secure them.
Here’s a few shots of the setup.
I added chicken wire to the inside of the pallets to reduce the amount of compost that would slip out when it gets turned.
I used a construction/upholstery stapler to attach the wire which worked OK. On the newer boards it worked great but on the older pallets not so much and required hammering in the staples the rest of the way.
If I had to do these again, or I suppose if I have to reattach wire later, I would use wire staples and hammer them in.
That’s honesty all there is to it!
3 Bin Setup
You’ll see I setup 3 bins and that’s for each stage of composting: new, in process, and finished compost. With the bins setup this way it’s easy to move the material from one bin to another.
The rightmost bin has two pallets for the inside. The reason for that is one of the pallets had the recesses under it for forklifts to get under. As such, it left a big gap and I wasn’t comfortable that just chicken wire would be enough.
I decided to add another pallet to cover that side and give me more wood to secure the chicken wire to. If you get pallets without the recess for the fork lifts you won’t have to bother.
You’ll notice my rightmost bin is in process and should be in the center bin. However, I started with a single bin setup and added the other two later.
My leftmost bin is my new stuff and that right bin with material should be the finished compost. I figure by the time we need the compost it will be finished so all good!
Something to consider for the pallet compost bins would be securing the open end of the pallets to the ground. Right now the pallets are only attached at the back of the bin. At the moment they seem sturdy enough but I also don’t have 3 full bins of compost in there either.
My thought is if I find the open ends wobble then I would be to drill a hole near the open end of each pallet in the frame on the ground. I would then take a piece of rebar with one end bent over like a tent stake and hammer that in to secure the ends.
Lastly, I live in the northeast where we get snow. I have also seen some people use another pallet to create a door on the open ends that hinges open. That most certainly would require the previous mentioned securing the ends to the ground.
Adding a door to the pallet compost bins and a plywood board to cover the top would reduce the snow that gets in there and help keep the compost doing its thing longer.
These are things I won’t get around to this year. Plus, I want to see how this all fairs through the winter before I commit to doing work I may not really need to.
Odds are we won’t have much worth composting through the winter anyway. If the composting process crawls to a halt for a few months, then that’s not a big deal.
Pretty simple process and a short article today. There’s no need to get into any great depth here as this isn’t a topic requiring a lot of explanation.
If gardening is your things, then check out the article I did on making your own raised container gardens with barrels.