Build your own free DIY Pallet compost bin

Finished DIY palette compost bin (free)What to do when you have too much spare compost that you are not quite ready to use, well I was politely told to  “make your own compost bin”! Ideally it would be great to store it all in a free compost bin that does not get excessively wet or attract local squatters, in the form of weeds.

We already have a plastic compost bin that we use to rot down our waste material, but we needed additional storage capacity.

Being scrimpers, we wanted to build our own storage compost bin, without ideally spending any money. Not that a plastic bin is particularly expensive (£20-£30) but we would rather recycle where possible and learn new skills. 

There are of course many great examples on-line using old wooden pallets to construct the frame, which contributed and influenced our ideas, but we only had two wooden pallets and this was our attempt.

What can you build with only two free pallets?

Ordinarily most of the on-line compost bin examples we found, used one pallet per side (or wall) so would need four in total, but we only had two available and they were of slightly different sizes. So we opted to take them apart and create four single panels, instead of double lined frame.

Also with the two layers of a typical pallet, a large amount of your compost just falls through the gaps in between and is not easy to extract via a spade or trowel.

The other issue was, we wanted a little hutch type door so that everything did not all fall out each time we tried to extract some compost.

It doesn’t have a large compost capacity, is it worth it?

One could argue maybe not with a total capacity of 234 litres, but for us it was a case of having limited available space but needing somewhere permanent to keep any fresh compost until needed. Plus it was an ideal size to fit in-between two small tree’s where nothing useful would grow anyway, being that it’s too shady and the tree’s would dominate the available nutrients/ground moisture.

The other advantage (i think) is that any compost that we move from the main compost heap that hasn’t finished breaking down properly, might just continue to decompose in the second bin. Hopefully with all the aeration in new compost bin, being the large gaps and netting between the planks.

What did we spend on this DIY compost bin project?

Well actually nothing, well apart from our time on a hot Saturday afternoon. It beats sitting around doing nothing, whilst still catching some lovely warm rays and burning a few (hundred) calories.

Ok it was not as glamorous as i make out, it was sweaty work trying to lever off the planks from the pallet, as each was nailed down with 3-4 large old rusty nails per adjoining support. I think there was 3 adjoining supports per plank, so not all of them came off in one piece, plus i had a few anger management issues on a couple of them.

I already had the tools, plenty of outdoor wood screws and some spare netting kicking about. Alternatively I had considered using the netting bags that fruit comes in from the local supermarket, though it would be a little more fiddly.

Certainly a worth while little DIY project

Yes I would say, it was a fun little project to do with my father in law Paul on a sunny afternoon and it provided 234 litres of permanent compost storage in a dead space region of the garden.

It didn’t cost a penny and it made a great use of two old free pallets that we recycled and kinda up-cycled into something useful for the whole garden. Good old home composting!

234 litres is certainly not enough compost storage for the amount of plants we grow, but it’s a start. I already have plans to build a larger compost bin, just the question is, as always, space!

Have you made anything from wooden pallets?

As always we would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and experiences with building your DIY wooden compost bins or any other project with old wooden pallets. We have recently obtained a couple more small pallets that are being reserved for the right project. Any ideas?

Piers Caswell
Piers Caswell
Founder, designer & developer at Digital-Zest Online Ltd
For 15 years I have been creating websites and digital media solutions. I have a keen interest in writing on my personal blog about finding frugal and more sustainable ways to living through the great financial depression. Situated 34 Miles West of London, located in Tilehurst, Reading.
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