How to Make a Composter – Location, Material and Filling

How to Make a Composter – Location, Material and Filling

A composter offers many advantages and should therefore not be missing in any garden. We will show you how to make a composter, how you can easily build your own compost container.

how to make a composter
© K. Thalhofer –

Waste disposal is expensive and everyone is required to separate their waste. But where to put the old apples, the potato peels and the coffee grounds? There is a solution for all biodegradable waste that accumulates in the kitchen and garden. Because these are allowed on the compost. You have your own garden, but no compost container yet? Then you will be interested in the following instructions. We will tell you why a compost container is worthwhile, what belongs on the compost and how even inexperienced do-it-yourselfers can easily build their own compost container.

Compost containers are worth it!

A compost container is practical and helps you save money. In future, various kitchen and garden waste will be able to end up on the compost instead of in the organic waste bin, which is subject to a charge. This doesn’t cost you a cent and even brings you something else, namely nutritious garden soil and an effective natural fertilizer that lets your plants grow and prosper.

Attention: The compost container in the garden does not replace the organic waste bin!

You cannot automatically throw all the waste that accumulates in the kitchen and garden onto the compost. There are a few things to consider when composting. In order for the composting process to really get going, a balance between carbon and nitrogen is necessary. Carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials should therefore be roughly in balance on the compost.

high-carbon waste

  • pruning
  • shrub cut
  • foliage

nitrogen-rich waste

  • grass clippings
  • biowastes
  • coffee grounds
What may be composted? NoGos for composting
  • lawn cut
  • foliage
  • cut flowers
  • houseplants
  • balcony plants
  • raw fruit and vegetable residues
  • rotten fruit
  • chopped tree or hedge pruning
  • eggshells
  • tea bag
  • coffee grounds
  • sawdust
  • Paper Cardboard without print
  • banana peels
  • citrus fruits
  • Meat
  • fish
  • bones
  • medications
  • batteries
  • cooked pasta
  • chemicals
  • packagings
  • Cherry laurel, beech, chestnut or poplar leaves

Building compost containers – step by step instructions

  1. Define location
  2. Determine the size of the composter
  3. Preparing construction material and tools
  4. Prepare base area
  5. Bring corner post into the Soil
  6. Tension chicken wire
  7. Attach boards on the three sides
  8. Attach boards to the front side

Define location

The choice of the appropriate location is not insignificant for the subsequent composting process. The location should be as shady as possible.

Tip: If the location is too sunny, the compost will dry out. Also keep in mind that the compost heap should be easily accessible from the house.

Determine size

When choosing the right size, consider the size of your garden and the need for compost. Compost containers should normally not be too small. The minimum dimensions are about one meter. Larger compost containers can also have dimensions of 1.5 metres. Of course, you can also build several smaller compost containers and place them at different locations in the garden.

Tip: The compost container should not be too low. A height of about one metre is considered a guideline here.

Preparing construction material and tools

The aim here is to clearly favour wood. Wood is the easiest to process, is inexpensive and quite durable. Make sure that the wood is robust and does not rot too quickly. Compost containers made of larch wood have proved their worth here. Larch wood does not have to be impregnated extra, but has a natural protective function.

Tip: If you use spruce wood or pine wood, impregnate the strips before processing so that the compost container does not begin to rot prematurely.

Building material:

  • four corner posts
  • four wooden slats
  • chicken wire
  • wooden boards
  • nails


  • spirit level
  • hammer
  • tape measure

Prepare base area

Once you have found a suitable location, devote yourself to preparing the Soil. To make it easier for microorganisms and insects to find their way into the compost later, loosen up the soil surface accordingly.

Bring corner post into the Soil

Now bring the four corner pillars into the Soil according to the dimensions. These should be buried at least 15 cm deep so that the compost container will later have the necessary stability.

Tension chicken wire

To prevent small animals from settling in the compost, the floor is now lined with chicken wire.

Attach boards on the three sides

Now attach the boards to the back and both long sides. The boards are fastened with nails. Make sure that there is an even distance between the individual boards. This distance should not be less than five centimeters.

Tip: Sufficient ventilation is particularly important for the compost container. This is achieved by the distances between the individual wooden strips.

Attach boards to the front side

Once you have completely covered the three sides with boards, devote yourself to the front. Attach two wooden strips to each of the two corner posts so that a groove is created. You can now easily insert the remaining wooden slats into this groove. This allows you to remove finished compost easily and adjust the height of the compost container individually.

What goes in the compost?

Now the compost container is ready and you can start filling it. Autumn or spring are ideal times for setting up a compost container. When pruning is required, you can create the first layer in the compost heap with the crushed branches and twigs. The coarse garden waste is mixed with lawn cuttings and straw. Now you bring up a layer of stable manure. You can now gradually apply kitchen and garden waste to it.

Tip: In summer the compost heap can dry out quickly. So water it occasionally so that the microorganisms and earthworms can continue to do their work there.

Alternative: compost container made of  pallets

how to make a composter
© animaflora –

If you own pallets or have the opportunity to purchase them at a reasonable price, you have found a practical and inexpensive alternative. In addition, dollar pallets already have the appropriate dimensions and the necessary ventilation slots are also available. You only need four dollar pallets, which you now connect with angles or nail together. Then you can fill in the compost as already described.

Compost container without nails

Would you like to do without nails or screws during assembly? Then decide on a compost container, which you equip with a plug-in system. To do this, you must provide the boards with small recesses. These must correspond to the dimensions of the wooden slats. Measure the distances accurately and then saw out the recesses.

Then you insert the individual boards alternately into each other and thus create a flexible plug-in system which offers a secure hold and can also be easily removed again if you want to remove compost. You can save on cornerstones in this case. With it you can build your own compost container with little manual skill and thus enrich your garden and save money at the same time. Since the container is easy to put together, you can change its size at any time and easily move it to another location.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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