We are working on a lot of new outdoor projects here at Twelve On Main. Its been a busy summer full of fun new things and there are more to come! In June we introduced three pygmy goats to your wanna be farm. We also fixed up our kids giant treehouse and have it a huge facelift. Next we are getting ready to build a chicken coop, and soon after that some chickens! All these new things made me realize I needed one specific item in my backyard. A compost bin. And whats better than any old compost bin but an easy pallet compost bin DIY.
We love using pallets around the house. We have used them in many projects including:
Maybe you are looking for a great way to take apart those pallets, check out this post on how to disassemble one easily!
Now, back to my compost bin DIY. While introducing goats and chickens is so much fun, there is something I failed to realize when we got them….they all poop.
Hahah yes, duh, I knew that. And I was so very excited about the fact that we would have the greatest garden fertilizer. But, we were producing quite a bit and I needed to figure out how to take advantage of that. We also have a large garden, and I was looking for a way to reduce our own waste, so a compost bin moved to the top of my list.
Here they are, thinking that the pile of manure in this wheel barrow is a bunch of fun.
I really liked the idea of creating my own compost bin…and at the beginning of the summer I attempted a small one, made with a plastic tupperware tub. I drilled holed in it for drainage and air flow, but after a couple of weeks, the sun was taking its toll on it and the plastic began to break apart. I knew I needed something else. Also, I was quickly outgrowing the plastic tub and needed something larger.
Looking pretty lame don’t you think?
In comes the pallet compost bin. I spent a lot of time researching compost bin DIY ideas, and I needed to come up with something fairly simple yet effective.
A few important elements I needed to take into consideration when building a pallet compost bin are:
- Heat treated pallets (not chemically treated)
- a compost bin requires airflow
- I needed to plan for a top to keep it protected
- Have the ability to access and dump our discards in without any problems
- Make it as critter proof as possible
So in order to plan for all these things, I liked the idea of using pallets since they provide ample airflow. I also planned to use a pallet on the top as protection, while also allowing some of the rain and snow to get in. I did not want it to be completely open to the elements
Here is what we used to make our easy pallet compost bin:
This makes a large pallet compost bin…if you want a smaller one, you can cut your pallets down.
- 4 pallets
- reciprocating saw
- wire mesh or hardware cloth
- 2 inch long screws
- screw gun or impact driver
- staple gun
- cardboard for the bottom of the compost bin
Before we get started, lets talk a little bit about pallets, and some info on compost bins, where to put them and what you can compost in them:
How do you know if your pallet is safe to use?
Before we started we made sure that the pallets we used were safe. You will notice some codes stamped on your pallets.
You want to use a heat treated pallet and as you can see from the image above, there is a clear HT on the side of the pallet. I wanted to make sure of this since we were using the pallet to decompose food, clippings, etc that would go directly back in my garden.
Where do you want to put your compost bin?
I recommend putting it somewhere that is out of the way. We have about 1 1/2 acres, so we weren’t concerned about effecting the neighbors. But, we wanted to make sure it was still convenient yet not near the house.
We chose to put it between where the goats are and where our chicken coop will be. This way, moving their poop and bedding into the compost pile will be easy and convenient. It’s plenty out of the way and yet, not too far.
Some may be worried about the smell, but in my experience, if it is composting correctly, it shouldn’t have much of a smell to it, other than really damp dirt…which is what mine smells like.
What can you compost?
This is something I studied hard because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t composing anything that would ruin my future compost.
Things you can compost:
- vegetables and fruits
- breads(be wary of critters though)
- grass clippings
- animal manure(NOT DOGS OR CATS) we want vegetarian animal manure…such as goats, chickens, cows, lamas, alpacas and horses
- printed paper
- tree leaves
- egg shells
- wood shaving
What should you not compost:
- Non vegetarian manure, including dogs, cats, humans
- Noxious weeds. A compost bin has to get really hot to cook out the seeds which is impractical.
- Food scraps containing animal products such as dairy, meat, fat and bones(these may attract critters)
- colored news paper and magazines
- disease yard waste
- meat products
Alright, now that we have talked all about compost bins, lets talk about how to make this easy pallet compost bin:
The first thing we did was clear a spot for it. We made sure the ground was level as well.
We decided to put ours up against our fence, giving it a bit more structure to it.
This compost bin DIY is pretty straightforward, which would be the reason why I didn’t take any pictures! It was done so quickly I forgot!
So I will just explain what we did.
We started by sitting the first pallet upright, with the slats going horizontally. If you need to put something inside the pallet to keep it upright, like a fence post, then do that. I used my fence as a brace.
We then sandwiched two pallets to the sides, one on each side. This is where your impact driver will come in handy. We screwed the side pallets into the back pallet. This creates a U shape.
We then cut down a pallet, cutting off about 8 inches all the way across the top. This will go on the front of the pallet compost bin.
We thought long and hard about what we were going to do with the front. A few options were to put hinges on the top or bottom so that it could be lifted for mixing the compost. We ultimately decided to simply screw on the front piece. Let me tell you why…
We cut the front low enough that we can easily mix it ourselves without removing the front. We figured it would be easy enough to unscrew the front piece when we needed to access the compost in the spring and then the front piece will be completely out of the way.
After we screwed in the front piece, we attached the top. We did put this one on a hinge so that we could lift it up and off the top if needed. You could simply set the pallet on top and it would be fine as well. The pallets are heavy enough that they wont go anywhere.
Once we had the structure built for the pallet compost bin, we used our staple gun to staple wire mesh to the inside of the compost bin.
We did all three sides and the top. This will just help keep all the particles inside the compost bin where they need to be. We used a mesh that had very small openings to make sure it would give it some structure, but still allow airflow.
The last thing I did before filling this sucker up with compost was to add a layer of cardboard on the ground. This gives it a foundation and will compost naturally with the rest of the material.
Once it was all assembled, I was thrilled to transfer all my current compost out of the falling apart compost bin. I then added a bit more grass clippings, and some of the bedding from the goats shed. Last I topped it with some goat manure and a big box of scraps from the kitchen. I have it a stir, sprayed it with a bit of water and thats it!
Now we just wait!
This is the perfect project to do in the fall or the spring. We did ours near the fall so that we have all winter to create a really nice batch of compost for the next springs garden.
Our pallet compost bin is so tall that it will hold a ton, which is great! I am so excited to finally have a nice, sturdy, and safe place to put all of our compost. And as soon as we get out chickens, I see this becoming an even larger project. Possibly there will be a second pallet compost bin added later.
One benefit of the use of pallets to use in our compost bin DIY is that it looks organic.
There are so many that you can purchase online, but I just never liked the way they looked. This looks nice with out wood fences, and is pretty seamless with the rest of the backyard. It practically blends in. It definitely wont stick out like a sore thumb.
I cant wait until next spring to see some black gold in our giant pallet compost bin.
Have you thought about doing a compost bin DIY? Do you like using pallets in your home projects? I hope this post has helped you discern whether or not this kind of project is right for you!
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