Best Compost Bins in 2023: How to Buy the Right Compost Bin
for Home & Garden
A compost bin can make composting so much easier! But with all the different options on the market, choosing the right bin can feel overwhelming at times.
If that’s you, don’t worry! Our complete guide to compost bins for home gardeners details everything you need to find the right one for you! We’ve also mentioned our top 3 picks ranging in prices so that you can buy one that fits your needs and budget!
Creating compost is not only great for your home garden, but also for the environment. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps as well as yard waste make up to 28 percent of all the waste that ends up in landfills. This waste then releases methane, a greenhouse gas that’s harmful to the environment.
Plus, adding compost to your soil makes it easier to work with, boosts its fertility, and helps the soil retain moisture so you don’t have to water it as frequently.
If you’re looking to get into composting and want to buy a compost bin, our guide will teach you everything you need to put your food waste to good use and reduce your carbon footprint.
What is a Compost Bin?
A compost bin is a container into which organic waste is placed to decompose over time. Some bins are continuous, which means you may keep adding compostable material to them, whereas others produce batches of compost from a predetermined mix of components that you add all at once.
Even without housing, the same process will eventually occur in a compost pile or compost heap over time. However, using a bin can accelerate the composting process. Bins can also have the added benefit of preventing rats from accessing your compost, but this benefit will vary depending on the design of the bin you end up choosing.
The best part about compost is that it can be made from a wide variety of materials, including kitchen scraps, cardboard egg cartons, coffee grounds, and old newspapers that would otherwise be thrown away, as well as yard debris like leaves, straw, sawdust, grass clippings, and weeds.
To find the right compost bin for you, let’s look at the different types, followed by the factors you need to consider when choosing one.
Common Types of Compost Bins for Home Gardeners
Enclosed bins is composting at its most basic. Made of recycled black plastic, there’s nothing to rot or rust. They can be something as simple as a minimalist plastic bin, to other enclosed bins with more features.
Best For: Growers with limited space. The neat appearance and low cost make this the most popular composter available. Ideal for kitchen scraps and a limited amount of yard waste.
Advantages: Low maintenance, for example, you don’t have to turn a holding unit. The lid keeps the rain off the contents and helps deter animals. When bought in black color, it absorbs heat – enhancing the decomposition process.
Downsides: Low maintenance means the process can take longer. Composting can take from six months to one year using this kind of container. Decomposition can occur quickly if aerated.
As the name implies, a rolling bin can be rolled to your yard waste, loaded up and then rolled away. A quick tumble every day or two mixes and aerates the pile, eliminating the need to aerate with a pitchfork or aerating tool.
Best For: Homeowners and others with sufficient space. Eliminates unsightly refuse piles and can be rolled out of sight when not in use. Use to recycle yard clippings and vegetable scraps. Ideal for an average-sized yard or garden.
Advantages: Low maintenance, plus they make aerating the pile easy. The lid keeps the rain off the contents and helps deter animals. Made of recycled plastic and easy to assemble. The spherical shape maximizes heat retention for faster decomposition.
Downsides: Fully loaded bins can become heavy and difficult to roll.
One notch up on the evolutionary scale from the spherical and enclosed bins, compost tumblers are designed so that they turn their contents easily.
Best For: Homeowners with limited space that are willing to invest in a tumbling system. The neat appearance and quick composting times make these units a popular choice.
Advantages: Energy-efficient design is relatively easy to aerate. Supplies bacteria with the oxygen it needs and consequently speeds up decomposition. Available in various sizes, small to large. The lid keeps the rain off the contents and helps deter animals. Drums usually sit off the ground — less bending!
Downsides: Once these units are full and the decomposition process begins, you have to wait before adding additional materials.
Using redworms to compost is a convenient way to dispose of kitchen scraps and turn them into a rich, organic soil conditioner known as worm castings. If you supply the right ingredients and care, your worms will thrive!
Best For: Homeowners and apartment dwellers with limited space. Use to convert kitchen scraps into rich, crumbly castings and worm tea, a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer.
Advantages: Worm bins can be located anywhere from under the kitchen sink to outdoors for backyard composting or in your garage. Once up and running they require very little maintenance. The stacking tray design allows the worms to “eat their way up” to their food, leaving their nutrient-dense castings behind.
Downsides: Temperatures need to be considered. Ideally, a worm bin should be located in an area where the temperatures are between 40-80˚F. In cold climates, bring your bin inside during the winter to avoid freezing. In hot climates, keep it wet and cool. On occasion, unpleasant odors may waft from the container when it’s overloaded with table scraps. If this occurs, stop adding food until the redworms have had a chance to break down what is left in the bin.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Compost Bin
When picking a compost bin that fits your needs, there are a few things you need to consider to know which is the right one for you. Let’s look at what they are in more detail:
Type of Composting
First of all, it’s important to know what kind of composting you’ll be doing. Conventional composting is different than vermicomposting, aka worm composting.
Read more about the two methods before embarking on your own personal composting journey by clicking the links and reading our guides. It will help you know which type of compost bin to use, as some are specifically made for vermicomposting.
When it comes to compost bins, larger bins aren’t always the better option. Small bins typically carry 1 to 10 gallons, medium bins 11 to 30 gallons, and large bins usually store 31 gallons or more.
A sizable volume of yard waste will probably not fit in a tiny bin. On the other hand, compost must be turned for aeration and material dispersion, which might be more difficult in a larger bin.
Additionally, the longer the pile must continue ‘cooking’ to become compost, the larger the bin must be. This is when to keep an eye out for dual batch composters if you’re looking for a large capacity one! (Hint: we have a great option reviewed down below for you!)
Stationary or Tumbling
Compost bins are either stationary or tumbling kind. Both come with their own pros and cons that have been mentioned above.
The type of bin you ultimately choose will be influenced by the amount of work and effort you want to put in, the amount of organic matter you have, and how quickly you want to make compost.
A stationary bin will work if you have a lot of yard waste and don’t mind turning the compost pile by hand once in a while. If you need compost quickly and don’t want to use a pitchfork, a compost tumbler is definitely the better option.
Stationary outdoor compost bins can be placed in either the shade or the sun, depending on how quickly you want the composting process to complete. The sun helps raise the temperature, which speeds up the work of the bacteria and fungi.
Tumblers or smaller containers, on the other hand, can be moved as needed to any location in your yard or house.
A well-constructed compost bin should contain air vents or holes in strategic locations to allow for optimal ventilation. Some bins contain charcoal filters to help with odor control. Look for these features when picking the right compost bin for your home.
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The Top 3 Compost Bins for Home Gardeners in 2023
At Plant Natural, we believe in sharing with you all the great gardening supplies we come across while trying and testing what’s available on the market. Here are the top three compost bins that we believe you should check out:
Best Value: OXO Easy Clean Compost Bin
The compact but robust OXO Good Grips compost container holds up to 1.75 gallons of compost and is designed to be used with a liner, also known as compost bags. It can be stored beneath the kitchen sink or on the countertop.
This bin, unlike others, includes a mechanism in the back that secures the bag and keeps the liner from sinking as you load it with food scraps and other organic waste.
Plus, in contrast to other bins, this one includes a large latch and an easy-to-open lid. The entire lid is detachable, making it easier to empty the bin and clean it. Due to its large square design and solid handle, this compost bin is simple to move, even when full of compost.
For the price of just $32.99 for a 1.75-gallon compost bin, this is a great option for beginners looking for a design that fits on top of their kitchen counter but within a limited budget.
Best Features: VIVOSUN Tumbling Dual Rotating Batch Compost Bin
This VIVOSUN tumbling composter has two twin chambers, making it a great option for batch composting. It’s a great size with a 43-gallon bin and comes in two colors.
It’s a great time-saving option, allowing you to let one side ‘cook’ while adding fresh, compostable materials to another side. Continuously swapping sides creates an uninterrupted flow of rich, healthy compost for your home garden.
The hands-free rotating design makes it a mess-free option and you won’t have to get your hands dirty to get some great compost! It’s an efficient and easy compost bin to work with, and the adjustable air vents and deep fins greatly assist with air circulation.
What’s great is that it even comes with garden gloves and all the necessary tools, making it all you’ll need to do efficient composting at home easily using just one compost bin.
All you need to do is to fill it up with garden waste and kitchen scraps, slide the door shut and give it a turn every couple of days! At a price of $109.99, it’s a great mid-priced option that’s built well and will last you a long time.
Best Innovative Design: Garden Tower 2™
Touted as the world’s most advanced vertical garden planter, and rightfully so, this incredible design is a composter that can grow just about any vegetable or plant you want all in one!
It’s an incredibly innovative design that combines a vertical garden tower to grow up to 50 plants and a vermicompost bin all in one! It has a rotating design and requires a space of around 4 square feet since it’s 43 inches tall and 24.5 inches wide.
If you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor vertical garden and simultaneously looking to start composting as well, there is no other option on the market that’s better than this one.
The system replicates a natural ecosystem allowing your plants to access all the necessary nutrients through the composting materials. It’s incredibly easy to grow nearly any herbs, vegetables, or flowers organically with it.
It’s essentially an organic 6 cubic foot vertical soil-based alternative to expensive and difficult hydroponic systems. It also comes with a 5-year manufacturer warranty and is 100% made in the USA.
At a retail price of $499, it’s a great option for anyone looking to really get into the world of composting and growing their own vegetables, herbs, and plants organically.
Check out our full guide to the Garden Tower 2.
Alternatives to Compost Bins
Heaps or Piles
The lazy man’s entrée into composting. If you don’t want to build or purchase a bin, simply start heaping your organic materials in a corner of the yard.
Best For: People with adequate outdoor space and who are willing to invest time — if not in building a bin — then in turning their heap or pile.
Downsides: If not properly aerated, heaps can take a long time to decompose. Since they are not enclosed, they can also attract pests if you’re not careful.
Click on Step-By-Step Instructions to Build a Compost Pile for more information.
Uses shallow pits dug in the ground as opposed to above-ground structures. The pit should be no less than 18 inches deep, 3 feet wide, and of any length. This method produces high temperatures and relatively quick decomposition.
Best For: People who want to contain and shelter the compost pile. Minimal investment is required, except for time.
Downsides: Requires regular maintenance or anaerobic conditions can take over quickly due to poor ventilation. Only small amounts of organic waste can be used at one time.
Learn more about pit composting here.
Definitely an activity that’s best done in the fall. Simply put, you place a thin layer of raw materials, such as leaves, and incorporate them by raking them into the soil of your garden. Over the course of the winter, the material will break down into “garden gold.”
Best For: People with large gardens who aren’t afraid to experiment.
Downsides: Using your garden as your “bin” means tying up the nitrogen which your plants normally would use. That means you have to do this in the fall when your garden is fallow.
Visit the UC Master Gardeners of Napa County for more about the benefits and concerns of sheet composting.
With the right composting equipment turning table scraps into valuable vermicompost is a cinch! Planet Natural supplies everything you need to get started: worms, a container and “”bedding.” Plus books that tell you just how to do it. Now let’s rot!
What products to compost
You will be able to source all of the essential elements in order to build a great compost pile without having to look too far! As long as your carbon to nitrogen ratio is optimal (25-30:1) your compost pile will be breaking down properly. Here are some lists of acceptable additions:
Carbon Rich Material "Browns"
Cardboard (free of dyes)
Stems & twigs
Nitrogen Rich Material "Greens"
Kitchen food waste
Weeds (that have NOT gone to seed)
Things to Avoid
Diseased plant material
Manures from carnivorous animals
As for the rhododendron and holly leaves, you can definitely put them in your compost pile. However, it is a good idea to really chop or shred them up, as they take much longer to break down due to their fibrous and waxy make up. It really depends on how quickly you are trying to create usable compost. It might be a good idea to have a separate pile going that you incorporate those leaves into and another pile that you do not. That way you can have a pile you know will rapidly break down into garden goodness and have yet another ready to use later on. Good luck!
Can I compost diseased plants?
There are nearly 7,000 estimated different species of rust causing pathogenic fungi. Although many of those would be destroyed when your compost pile reaches the ideal temperature (135-150 degrees Fahrenheit), some of them would not. Those thermophilic fungi would not be eradicated until the pile reached temperatures over at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and at that point the heat would also cause a loss of nutrients and destroy most of the beneficial microbes. Therefore, it would be wise to avoid composting the infected leaves so that you do not spread the disease. You can opt for burning the leaves but do not bury them and be sure to also disinfect any gardening tools that came into contact with the pathogen. Here's a couple of links that will help:
what not to compost
Hi Jania -
There is an active ingredient in citrus call "limonene" that has the potential to kill your worms if added to your pile in large concentrations. For a small home wormery I would recommend adding citrus peels 1 at a time and wait until it is thoroughly decomposed before adding more.
Can I Compost Tomatoes?
Honestly, we've never really thought much about composting tomatoes... So, we wrote a blog post on the subject! Here it is:
Can I compost paper?
I think the basic rule of composting applies here… "When in doubt, leave it out." You certainly don't want to be adding toxic materials, if any, to your compost pile. As for composting paper, the following link will help:
Green Cone Digester
Suitable for recycling many types of food waste including meat, fish and dairy products.$239.95Read more
NO tools required! Assembles in minutes and produces dark, rich top soil quickly.$59.95Read more