Blog: Do It Yourself Composter that Works!

Do It Yourself Composter that Works!

Posted April 3, 2018

A Composter That Works!!

This is a basic outline describing a composter built at home.  Organic matter broke down so fast that one to two feet of finished compost could be removed from the bottom of both composters every year.  The composters are wood and are painted black.  The black colour blends in with the colour of the asphalt driveway.  The driveway is a very handy location especially in winter when snow is on the ground.

We never mixed or stirred the material in the composter.  We just left it alone and it broke down.

It is not necessary to purchase new materials to construct composters. Materials used to construct these two composters were:

  • wood from one or two skids or solid scrap wood
  • two or three old metal hinges
  • screws (not nails)
  • hardware cloth
  • U – shaped hooks to attach the hardware cloth to the inside of the composter

The frame of the composters were built first.  Then the side slats were attached. Slats were situated far enough apart so that the organic matter in the composter was exposed to air.

Once composter construction was complete, the sides and top were lined on the inside with hardware cloth of a mesh size small enough to prevent animals from entering the composter.

An access point was constructed at the bottom front of the composters so that finished compost could be removed easily.

Remove finished compost slowly in case there is a mouse in the composter.


Location of the Composter – VERY IMPORTANT

These composters were situated so that air was able to circulate around all four sides.  They are exposed to full sun and precipitation.  A composter works most efficiently if it is exposed to weather.  The composting material will not smell if it is able to breakdown properly.

These composters were placed on solid level ground.  Solid ground can be asphalt, cement, or patio stones.  This prevents animals from burrowing underneath the composter and getting into it.  It also provides a clean surface to work on when removing finished compost.  Worms and other organisms do not need to be purchased and added to the composter.  Worms and other organisms that break down organic matter will find their way into the composter naturally even if it is situated on asphalt, cement or patio stones.

Animals, other than mice and chipmunks have never gotten into our composter.  We used to have a different composter located in the backyard situated on bare soil.  Animals dug underneath it to get at the organic matter.  That does not happen now with the composter located on the driveway.


Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions about these composters.  They were constructed separately and then joined in the middle to make a little storage shelf.

Author: Sheila O’Neal, Watershed Stewardship Manager

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