How to Make a Simple DIY Home Composting Can (with Composting Guide)

This post is shared as part of Boulder Locavore’s ongoing partnership with Silk, exploring earth-friendly, healthy lifestyles choices and exciting plant-based dietary options.

How to Make a Simple DIY Home Composting Can (with composting guide) - BoulderLocavore

With Earth Day right around the corner, I’m sharing a project near and dear to my heart: How to Make a Simple DIY Home Composting Can (with Composting Guide).  It’s inexpensive, easy to set up and very gratifying as well as great for your garden!

I am fortunate to live in a very environmentally conscious community.  Shortly after moving to Boulder they started curbside pick-up for recycling as well as composting.  In return for contributing to composting the eco center allows residents to come pick up bags of the final compost for their gardens.  I’ll confess, since the compost program can accept any vegetation and since I use compost on my food garden, I generally prefer to make my own since I know what I’ve put in it.  Specifically, I don’t put any weeds in the compost as I don’t want my food garden sprouting tons of weeds from any weed seeds!

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

Let’s start at the beginning, what is composting?  Composting is the process of breaking down organic (formerly living) material into a rich soil.  Plant matter (leaves and grass clippings) and food scraps are all you need to start composting.  For successful composting an equal amount of ‘brown’ and ‘green’ matter need to be used.  Examples of brown matter would be leaves, straw (untreated) and newspaper.  Green matter would be food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells and grass clippings.  Some people add vegetarian-fed animal manure to their compost.  I prefer not to add manure but to incorporate that into my garden beds separately.  Also I only use plant scraps in home composting.  Adding meat and dairy products are a bit more complicated and I leave that for my curbside compost pick-up.

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

The rate at which matter breaks down into compost depends on temperature, air flow, humidity and the ratio of the materials being composted.  The smaller the size of the matter also can effect the speed it composts as well I find.  Newspaper should be shredded through a shredder before adding to a compost pile.  If possible putting leaves through a leaf mulcher is great before adding them too.  Once everything is combined it will be rotated periodically to encourage the breakdown of the contents.  I’ll cover that more in a bit.

Many of us don’t have the space for a full blown compost pile.  I have the perfect solution that works and is inexpensive!  You’ll need a plastic garbage can with a lid, a drill with a large bit and 1-2 cinder blocks.  Holes are drilled into the garbage can to allow air flow, including the bottom, and it sits on the cinder blocks to stay off the ground.  It’s a great family project to purchase and create a home compost bin!

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

I also find it handy to have a small bin in which to put kitchen compost scraps.  Realistically I do not trot out to the compost bin each time I prepare food.  A simple milk carton is a perfect size to keep underneath the kitchen sink for this.  It holds 1-2 days of scraps so does not smell and can be easily taken out to dump in the compost can.  Using a box cutter (adults only please!) cut along the top seam of a half-gallon milk carton (just below the slanted area); remove and discard the top. Your scrap container is now ready!


32-gallon Plastic Garbage Can with Lid

Drill with large diameter bit (3/8 inch)

2 Cinder Blocks

Optional: Auger Drill Bit (for rotating the compost)


Equip the drill with the large drill bit.  Drill holes uniformly all over the can, including the bottom.  This allows for air flow to the compost.

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

Sit the prepared compost can on top of the two cinder blocks to allow air flow to the bottom of the can.

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -


Add equal parts of brown and green material (refer to examples above) into the compost can.

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

Turning the compost is critical to the breakdown of the material.  To turn the contents of the can either use an auger bit on a drill (see below) or place the can on its side (with lid secured on top) on the ground and roll it back and forth.  Turning the compost should happen a few times a week.

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

DIY Simple Home Composting Can (scraps) and Composting Guide -

For more details on home composting, check these resources:

Home Composting Made Easy, Cornell Composting FAQs, Earth Easy: Composting

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.


    • says

      You bet! It’s super fast and easy. You have to wait a bit for the compost to be ready but it’s so gratifying to add your OWN compost to your garden!

  1. Jeanine says

    What a great idea. i would love to do something like this. This looks pretty easy, and much more affordable than other options.

  2. says

    That really is a simple plan for a diy compost bin! Currently, I am only saving my egg shells and coffee grounds for my garden, but I would like to fully compost all of our scraps eventually.

  3. Ann Bacciaglia says

    This is a fantastic idea for making your own compost bin. I will have to get the supplies i need to make one for my yard.

  4. michele soyer says

    I have made so many composts bins over the years and to tell the truth many have been very poor.. I am definately going to give this idea a try.. Thank you!

  5. Joni Mason says

    I live in an apartment and can only do container gardening and I was beginning to think I couldn’t find a solution to having a compost can for my tiny space. Thank you for this post!

  6. Stacie says

    So excited to make this home composting can! Can you tell me if you put holes in the lid as well? Wondering if this would allow the right amount of moisture in. Thanks so much!

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